Supporting Breastfeeding

La Leche League Canada

Breastfeeding and Fertility

on January 26, 2015

There are two myths about breastfeeding and its effect on the return of fertility after baby is born.

#1: Breastfeeding does not prevent pregnancy

#2: Breastfeeding prevents pregnancy

Neither myth is 100% accurate but there is a kernel of truth in both statements. Understanding how breastfeeding affects the return to fertility, and how this varies from woman to woman is important when making decisions about the timing of future pregnancies.

Breastfeeding frequency and the total amount of time spent breastfeeding in a 24 hour period are the strongest factors that influence the return of fertility. If your baby is under six months old AND your periods have not returned AND your baby is breastfeeding on cue day and night AND baby gets nothing but breastmilk or only tiny amounts of other foods then breastfeeding is thought to be 98% effective in preventing pregnancy.

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The return of fertility can happen when any of the above factors change. Increased separation, longer gaps between daytime feedings, starting solids, baby sleeping longer stretches at night and pumping milk rather than feeding at the breast can all change the mother’s hormone levels and lead to a return of fertility.

Many mothers have one or more periods that are infertile before they start ovulating again but there is no way to knowing for sure whether this is the case for you. If the cycles resume in the first six months they are more likely to happen without ovulation occurring first. The longer you have gone without having a period while breastfeeding the more likely it is that you will ovulate before you have the first post-partum period.


If you need more information or have a breastfeeding problem or concern, you are encouraged to talk directly to a La Leche League Leader.  In Canada, Leaders can be located by clicking or Internationally






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