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Risk of pregnancy whilst breast feeding

Last reviewed dd mmm yyyy. Last edited dd mmm yyyy

Authoring team

Lactational amenorrhea results in a 2% pregnancy rate when used under 3 conditions (1):

  • the lactating woman is supplying at least 90% of the infant's calories through breastfeeding at intervals no longer than every 4 hours during the day and every 6 hours at night, but ideally more frequently
  • the lactating woman has not resumed her menses
  • she is in the first 6 months postpartum

  • such women may not need additional contraception, therefore avoiding the controversy of taking hormones while breastfeeding (1)

  • pregnancy rate increases to 5% in working women even if they express their milk every 4 hours, suggesting that the suckling of the infant contributes substantially to the contraceptive effect

  • beyond 6 months, the likelihood of ovulation preceding menses increases with time, raising the probability of conception

  • the low pregnancy rate of lactational amenorrhea, in addition to the many other benefits of breastfeeding, may be another reason for women to consider strict breastfeeding (1)


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