It is an old wives tale that you cannot get pregnant so long as you are breastfeeding, or is there some factual and scientific basis for this claim?
Well, breast feeding is somewhat effective as a form of birth control and the lactational amenorrhea method or LAM (relying on the absence of periods while you are breastfeeding as a form of contraception) has been seen to be up to 98% effective but only if certain criteria are met with:
- If a woman has not started menstruation after child birth, that would indicate an absence of ovulation, and therefore there is less of a chance of getting pregnant at this time. However, this is not a foolproof method and experts warn that there is still a 10% chance of getting pregnant if one is relying only on this indicator or fertility. Other indicators such as mucous production and basal temperature also have to be monitored for an accurate reading of ovulation.
- The mother should be breastfeeding on demand, night and day, without using bottle supplements. This would mean between 6 and 10 feeds a day.
- The baby should be less than 6 months of age. After this time, babies are usually started off on solids and their dependence on mother’s milk is not as high. The number of feeds per day may also go down by this time if you have started to supplement with a bottle.