Can You Get Pregnant While Breast Feeding? If so, what birth control can you use?

The following is a question surrounding Breast feeding, pregnancy and birth control as well as the role of contraception in breastfeeding and nursing babies and infants.

My name is TC. I am from Singapore. My wife recently wean my 10 months old daughter from her breast milk. She has been diligently feeding our daughter 5 times a day everyday for 10 months. I do not know what symptoms or side-effects which is related to stopping breast feeding. However, my wife is 3 weeks late on her regular menstruation and her gynae and obes suggested to her that it is pretty normal and to wait and see. We are not sure if her “late” menstruation has anything to do with the termination of the breast feeding. But we did have sexual intercourse during this period using the rhythm method. And we are not sure what to think. She has not get a pregnancy test yet, but if you can advice me, it would be a great help. Thank You. – TC Singapore


When babies are fully breast feeding, even at night, with few to no bottles and no pacifiers and thumb sucking, and mom is not having a menstrual period, it is rare for the women to get pregnant. Statistics say about 2% of the time.

It is not impossible, just rare.

However, as the baby begins to sleep through the night, goes longer between nursings, has some solid food, or has a few bottles, the chances of ovulation occurring grow. Once ovulation occurs, pregnancy is certainly back in the picture as a possibility.

Also, ovulation can occur without a prior menstrual period, so lactation is nota foolproof contraceptive. Far from it. So, what do you do for birth control without affecting your baby?

First, the non-hormonal methods of contraception do not change breast feedingat all. Hormonal methods of contraception are another story.

Some, maybe all, oral birth control pillsmight affect milk supply, alter milk composition,and/or even have an effect on your infant’s growth.

In the book Breastfeeding Pure & Simple, by Gwen Gotsch, the author writes, “With any type of hormonal contraceptive, small amounts of synthetic hormones appear in the mother’s milk, and some experts have expressed concern about possible long-term effects on the baby.”

The only way to be certain is to discuss this with your doctor. Many women do not have menstrual periods while they are breast feeding. It is not unusual for the periods not to return immediately after weaning. The only way to be certain about pregnancy, of course, is the test.

Good luck to you and your family!

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