Breastfeeding and Birth Control

Lactational Amenorrhea Method Of Birth Control (LAM)

Breastfeeding can be used as a method of birth control, but only if you follow these rules:

  • Your baby is under six months old
  • Your monthly periods have NOT returned
  • Your baby is fully or nearly fully breastfed*

*Fully breastfed means that your baby gets all food from sucking at the breast.

*Nearly fully breastfed means that in addition to breastfeeding, vitamins, minerals, juice, water or any other foods are given infrequently (no more than one or two mouthfuls a day).

*To be fully breastfed or nearly fully breastfed, your baby should go no more than 4 hours between feedings during the day.  At night your baby should go no more than 6 hours between feedings.

Choosing a Birth Control Method

  • If you are breastfeeding and you do not want to get pregnant, speak to your health care provider to choose a birth control method that is right for you.
  • It is important that you learn about the side effects of each birth control option and whether or not it will affect your milk supply.
  • There has been no research to prove that using hormonal birth control methods (i.e., methods that contain estrogen and/or progestin), will affect your baby.
  • It is recommended to wait until breastfeeding is well established before taking birth control pills.
Method of Birth Control Effect on Breastfeeding Effectiveness
Breastfeeding as birth control, or LAM
(Lactational Amenorrhea Method)
Positive 98%
Condoms (Male)
Thin covering of latex (or polyurethane) that is rolled onto the erect penis to stop sperm from going into the vagina.
No effect T = 85%
P = 98%
Condoms (Female)
Polyurethane sheath that lines the vagina to stop sperm from going into the vagina.
No effect T = 79%
P = 95%
Spermicides (Foam, Gel, Film, Sponge)
All contain chemicals that kill sperm. These methods are inserted into the vagina before intercourse.
No effect T = 68 to 71%
P = 80 to 82%
IUD (Intra-Uterine Device)
A small piece of plastic, usually wrapped with copper that is inserted into the uterus preventing the sperm from reaching the egg. An IUD is inserted by a health care provider.
No effect 99.1%
IUS (Intra-Uterine System)
A small piece of plastic containing a hormone (progestin), that thickens cervical mucus and prevents sperm from reaching an egg. A health care provider inserts this into the uterus.
No adverse effects on breastmilk supply if breastmilk supply is well established 99.8%
Fertility Awareness Methods
These methods require special teaching and are difficult to use before your periods start again.
No effect T = 80%
P = 91 to 99%
Combined hormonal contraceptive methods (Birth Control Pill, Contraceptive Patch, Vaginal Contraceptive Ring)
Contain hormones (progestin and estrogen) that stop an egg from being released each month and thicken cervical mucus. These methods are taken orally ("the Pill"), worn on the skin ("the Patch") or inserted into the vagina ("the Ring").
Studies have shown that estrogen may reduce breastmilk supply T = 92%
P = 99.7%
Mini Pill
A pill containing progestin, which is a hormone that thickens cervical mucus and may stop an egg from being released.
No adverse effects on breastmilk supply if breastmilk supply is well established T = 92%
P = 99.7%
Injectables (Depo Provera)
A hormone injection given by a health care provider every three months. It contains progestin, which thickens cervical mucus and may stop ovulation.
No adverse effects on breastmilk supply if breastmilk supply is well established T = 97%
P = 99.7%
Vasectomy (Male Sterilization)
A doctor cuts the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles. This may be done in a doctor's office. This is a permanent method.
No effect 99.9%
Tubal Occlusion (Female Sterilization)
A doctor cuts or blocks the tubes that carry the eggs to the uterus. This is done in a hospital and is a permanent method.
No effect 99.5%
Emergency Contraceptive Pills (ECP)
You must take these pills as soon as possible and within 5 days (120 hours) of unprotected sex. ECP contains hormones. This is an emergency method.
May reduce breastmilk supply temporarily Effectiveness varies.
Decreases over time

**Effectiveness of each method varies upon use - Typical (T) and Perfect Use (P).

(Information provided by the Society of Obstetricians and Gynecologists of Canada)