• Can breastfeeding prevent pregnancy?

    Dr. Rosanne Sugay explains why the answer is both a yes and a no.

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    Q. Is it true that when you're breastfeeding, you can't get pregnant?

     

    A. Yes and no. The idea that you cannot get pregnant while breastfeeding sprung from the fact that while you are breastfeeding your body has increased production of specific hormones that prevent ovulation. This is called lactational amenorrhea--a fancy way of saying that producing breast milk prevents you from menstruating. There is actually a less than 2% chance of getting pregnant if 3 specific guidelines are strictly met:

    • You have to be less than 6 months postpartum or your baby should less than six months old.
    • You are breastfeeding exclusively—that means feeding on demand with no other supplements of formula or solids.
    • You have not started menstruating.


    In reality, the above three conditions are not met all the time and unbeknown to you, you have already started ovulating. In which case, there is a 5% chance of you getting pregnant while you breastfeed.

     

    SOURCE:

    • Contraceptive Technology, 19th edition, 2007

     

    Photo from mammydoula.co.uk

     

    About the Author:
    Rosanne Sugay, M.D., is an Internist and Pediatrician at the University Medical Center in Las Vegas, Nevada, U.S.A.  She is constantly reminded by her two year old that children don't read the same pediatric textbooks as she does and will therefore always do the unexpected.

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