Birth Control for New Mothers

Can Breastfeeding be used as a Method of Contraception (birth control)?

Yes. Breastfeeding can be used for birth control, but only if you answer “Yes” to ALL of the four statements below:

  1. My baby is less than 6 months old.
  2. I have not had a period since my baby was born.
  3. My baby is fully or nearly fully breastfed.
  4. I breastfeed at least every 4 hours during the day and at least every 6 hours at night.

If you answer “No” to any of these statements, begin another method of contraception. 

Fully breastfed means your baby gets all food from suckling at the breast. Your baby must feed at the breast; pumping breastmilk does not have the same effect.

Nearly fully breastfed means your baby gets most food from breastfeeding. Vitamins, minerals, juice, water and some other foods (but no more than one or two mouthfuls a day) are also given.

This method of contraception is called Lactational Amenorrhea Method:
L = Lactational means breastfeeding
A = Amenorrhea means having no monthly period
M = Method

To use LAM effectively, you need additional detailed information. For more information on LAM and other methods of birth control, call: Healthy Babies Healthy Children Lactation or the Sexual Health Clinic at  625-5900.

 

Below is a table describing hormonal and non-hormonal methods of birth control, their effectiveness, and their effect on breastfeeding. You can download a PDF version of Contraception Methods for New Mothers as well. 

 

Method (Non-hormonal) Effectiveness of Method Effect on Breastfeeding When to Start
Breastfeeding as contraception, or LAM (Lactational Amenorrhea Method) More information on reverse. You
must meet the following criteria: 1. Your baby is less than 6 months old; 2. Your monthly periods have not yet
resumed. 3. You are breastfeeding exclusively (not providing any other foods or liquids to your baby).
Typical Use: 98% None Immediately after birth
Condoms (male) A soft, disposable sheath that fits over the erect penis and traps the sperm so it cannot fertilize the
egg.
Typical Use: 85%
Perfect Use: 98%
None Anytime
Condoms (female) A polyurethane sheath that lines the vagina and traps the sperm so it cannot fertilize the egg. Typical Use: 79%
Perfect Use: 95%
None Anytime
Diaphragm/Cervical Cap A reversible method of birth control that is positioned into the vagina and over the cervix
which block the entry to the uterus so sperm cannot enter to fertilize the egg.
Diaphragm
Typical Use: 84%
Perfect Use: 94%
None Anytime. These devices must be re-fitted
several months after the birth of your baby.
Fertility Awareness Method A woman monitors her menstrual cycle by measuring her basal body temperature and
identifying changes in cervical mucus. These methods require specific instruction.
Typical Use: 80%
Perfect Use: 91-99%
None After period resumes.
Male Sterilization (Vasectomy) A permanent surgical procedure that blocks the tube that carries sperm to the penis.
The male can still ejaculate during sex, but the fluid does not contain any sperm.
Typical Use: 99%
Perfect Use: 99%
None Not immediately effective after surgery. Back-up
contraception must be used between the time of surgery
and the follow-up semen analysis (2-3 months).
Female Sterilization (Tubal Ligation) A permanent surgical procedure that blocks the fallopian tubes so that the
sperm and the egg can no longer meet.
Typical Use: 99.5%
Perfect Use: 99.5%
None Anytime
Withdrawal Method (“Pulling Out”) A man must remove his penis from the woman’s vagina before ejaculation. The
most common problem is that a man withdraws too late, in which case emergency contraception would be
recommended (see below).
Typical Use: 73%
Perfect Use: 96%
None Anytime
Copper Intrauterine Device (IUD) A t-shaped device with copper wire around it that is inserted into the uterus and
can remain in place for up to five years.
Typical Use: 99.1%
Perfect Use: 99.1%
None 6 weeks post-partum
Method (Hormonal) Effectiveness of Method Effect on Breastfeeding When to Start
Injectable Contraception (“The Shot”) A reversible method of contraception that is given in the form of a needle in
the upper arm or buttocks every 12-13 weeks. It only contains progesterone (no estrogen).
Typical Use: 97%
Perfect Use: 99.7%
Should not affect the amount
or quality of breastmilk. No
harmful effects shown with
children up to 14-16 years of
age. Longer term effects not
fully understood at this time.
Speak with your health care provider. Usually not
recommended until at least 6 weeks postpartum.
Intrauterine System (Mirena or Jaydess) A small, T-shaped device that is inserted into the uterus which slowly
releases progestin over time. It can remain in place for up to five years.
Typical Use: 99.8%
Perfect Use: 99.8%
Should not affect the amount
or quality of breastmilk if
used after 6 weeks postpartum.
6 weeks post-partum
Progestin Only Oral Contraceptive (Mini-Pill) A tablet that is taken once a day at a specific time that contains
progestin only.
Typical Use: 92%
Perfect Use: 99.7%
Should not affect the amount
or quality of breastmilk if
used after 6 weeks postpartum.
Speak with your health care provider. Usually not
recommended until at least 6 weeks postpartum.
Combined Oral Contraception (“The Pill”) A tablet that is taken once a day at a specific time that contains two
types of hormone: estrogen and progestin.
Perfect Use: 99.7% The estrogen contained in
the pill may decrease your
milk supply.
Speak with your health care provider. Usually not
recommended until at least 6 months postpartum.
Transdermal Contraception (“The Patch”) A patch that can be placed on various areas of the body that slowly
releases hormones through the skin. It is applied once a week for three weeks, followed by a week without a patch.
Typical Use: 92%
Perfect Use: 99.7%
The estrogen contained in
the patch may decrease your
milk supply.
Speak with your health care provider. Usually not
recommended until at least 6 months postpartum.
Vaginal Contraceptive Ring (“Nuvaring”) A flexible ring that is inserted into the vagina that releases a continuous
dose of hormones for the three weeks it is in the vagina. It gets removed for one week, then a new one is inserted.
Typical Use: 92%
Perfect Use: 99.7%
The estrogen contained in
the ring may decrease your
milk supply.
Speak with your health care provider. Usually not
recommended until at least 6 months postpartum.

Your doctor, nurse practitioner, or a lactation consultant can help you decide which form of birth control is right for you while you are breastfeeding. If you are considering a hormonal method of birth control, it is important to consider selecting a short acting form (e.g. the pill), rather than a long acting form (e.g. the shot), as the results may be reversed more quickly if they are having an impact on your milk supply.  

Last Updated: 05/01/2017