Technically speaking, it is possible to be fertile while you are breastfeeding. Breastfeeding is not a guarantee that you will not conceive again right away. Many new moms who have relied on breastfeeding as their sole method of birth control have been surprised to find that they will now be caring for two infants! However, this does not mean that breastfeeding is completely ineffective at birth control, only that there are some important aspects of the question to consider.
There are three basic criteria that you can look at to determine how successful breastfeeding can be as a birth control technique. If your baby is less than six months old, your menstrual periods are absent, and your baby is feeding only on breast milk and not taking other milk, foods, beverages or pacifiers, you are less than 2% likely to be fertile while breastfeeding. This makes breastfeeding one of the most effective methods of birth control available, and it is completely natural!
Once any one of the three factors mentioned above changes, breastfeeding becomes less effective at preventing pregnancy. The timing of the return to being fertile will vary greatly from one woman to the next, and it will also depend greatly on the nursing pattern of your infant. In addition, your body’s sensitivity to the hormones that respond to lactation will determine whether you are going to become fertile sooner.
There are some things that you can do to insure the maximum effectiveness of breastfeeding as birth control. You should breastfeed around the clock. You should use breastfeeding to help your baby be comforted. You should avoid pacifiers and bottles. You should breastfeed when lying down at naptime and at nighttime.
For most women, the menstrual period will take around 14 months to return to normal. When a woman’s cycle returns before this, she will often still not be ovulating yet; mom’s whose cycle returns after this have probably already started ovulating even without the return of their period.