Hesperian Health Guides


In this chapter:

In the first 6 months after birth, most women who breastfeed do not release eggs from their ovaries, so they cannot get pregnant when they have sex.

Women usually do not get pregnant if they are breastfeeding and:

  1. the baby is less than 6 months old, AND
  2. the woman has not had any monthly bleeding
    since giving birth, AND
  3. the woman is giving the baby only her breast milk.
a woman breastfeeding a baby while in a wheelchair.

If you want to use this method of family planning, you must remember that you can easily get pregnant if you are giving your baby formula, water, other drinks, or if you are removing your breast milk by hand to feed the baby with a cup. Also, you may get pregnant if the baby goes longer than 6 hours between breastfeeding times. After 6 months, there is a higher risk of pregnancy, even if you are breastfeeding as before. You can get pregnant 2 weeks before your monthly bleeding starts again. So do not wait for your monthly bleeding to start again before using some form of family planning.

The breastfeeding method does not protect against HIV/AIDS or other STIs. Also, getting infected with HIV while breastfeeding creates a danger of passing HIV to the baby. If there is any chance your partner has HIV/AIDS, you should use a condom each time you have sex.

This page was updated:30 Nov 2023