EBF as contraception?

(51 Posts)
FoodieMum3 Thu 31-Jul-14 16:33:00

I was reading that EBF a baby younger than 6 months (as long as several conditions are met) is as effective as taking the pill.

Any thoughts/experiences?

MissMilbanke Thu 31-Jul-14 16:35:29

only If one of those conditions is abstinence then ebf works well as a contraceptive.

Otherwise it will not help - a jot !

Lucky29 Thu 31-Jul-14 16:35:50

I'm not risking it so on the pill as well. My dd hasn't fed in the night since about 8 weeks so I don't meet the criteria anyway but think if you really don't want to get pg you should use contraception.

beccajoh Thu 31-Jul-14 16:36:12

I didn't have any periods whilst breastfeeding but I know some of my friends did, even whilst EBF! I wouldn't take the risk myself unless I was happy to fall pregnant again. Plenty of people get caught out by this.

AuntieStella Thu 31-Jul-14 16:38:57

Why do you ask?

Would two PG in close succession be disastrous for you?

The WHO is pretty clear about the conditions that must be met (feeding round the clock, feeding on demand, no long intervals between feeds, periods not returned, baby age <6 months)

But it's not 100%. If you are taking the pill, you will probably notice if you miss one or if you have D&V and need to double up. With LAM, you won't know if it has failed until unmistakeably PG (because you ovulate before return of menses and might not think to POAS).

trixymalixy Thu 31-Jul-14 16:39:24

I know a couple of people who EBF and have age gaps of less than a year between kids. Wouldn't rely on it personally.

EBF DC1, periods returned at 13 months, so I would have been fine. EBF DC2, periods returned at 9 weeks, so glad I didn't risk it as I get pregnant easily and really couldn't cope with 3 under 3...

BertieBotts Thu 31-Jul-14 16:49:51

I wouldn't rely on it if getting pregnant would be the end of the world.

The problem is that different people have different definitions. Exclusive breastfeeding for example means not only no formula, but no solids and no water. Some also say it means no bottles of expressed milk and no dummies.

Breastfeeding must be on demand but again this varies as to how it's interpreted. Some say that dummy use artificially lengthens gaps between feeds. Some say that the baby must be co sleeping. Some say it's a problem if the baby sleeps longer than a certain period at night, even if they are doing this naturally without any kind of sleep training. Some say that the baby must be carried in a sling skin to skin and allowed free access to the breast at all times.

Perhaps if you are very used to temping and charting your fertility in a natural family planning kind of way it would be reliable, but other than that I wouldn't risk it personally.

ShadowFall Thu 31-Jul-14 16:50:20

I don't think it's wise to rely on ebf as a contraceptive, unless you'd be happy to get pregnant again.

I'm breastfeeding 10 month old DS2 and my periods still haven't returned (and have been using other contraception so pregnancy is unlikely), but I know that this isn't the case for everyone.

I know 2 women who fell pregnant on their first menstrual cycle after having a baby because they'd wrong assumed that breastfeeding was an effective contraception.

FoodieMum3 Thu 31-Jul-14 16:50:23

Interesting replies.

AuntieStella, I probably sound crazy because my baby isn't due for a few weeks yet! I am planning to EBF/feed on demand etc and hate and have always hated condoms and hormonal contraceptives. We haven't used either for a few years now; we have a 2.5 year old and this baby and spent about a year ttc the 2 year old so really it's been about 4 years since I've even had to think about it.

I definitely wouldn't be planning another pregnancy, but what if I did meet all those conditions you mentioned?

Oh and I also read that before baby is 6 months you get a period first, before you ovulate (like a warning)but with a baby older than 6 months you ovulate first, then period arrives if conception has not occurred. Do you know if this is true?

AuntieStella Thu 31-Jul-14 16:57:30

"Oh and I also read that before baby is 6 months you get a period first, before you ovulate (like a warning)"

This is definitely utterly not true.

ShadowFall Thu 31-Jul-14 16:57:57

I have no idea if it's normal to get a "warning" period if the baby's under 6 months.

It doesn't sound right though - I thought that ovulation was what triggered the whole menstrual bit off? So your hormone levels have to be enough for ovulation to at least be possible before you start having periods? Although I'm no expert so I could be talking bollocks.

BertieBotts Thu 31-Jul-14 17:08:06

You can get a period without ovulating but do not rely on this as a sign. That's like the old "you can't get pregnant the first time".

FoodieMum3 Thu 31-Jul-14 17:10:49

From kellymom

It is possible to have one or (occasionally) more periods before you start ovulating. In this case, menstruation begins during the first stage of the return to fertility –before ovulation returns. Cycles without ovulation are most common during the first six months postpartum. For other mothers, the first menstruation is preceded by ovulation – a longer period of lactational amenorrhea increases the likelihood that you will ovulate before that first period.

FoodieMum3 Thu 31-Jul-14 17:11:52

So clearly not worth the risk.

But it does state that pregnancy is very unlikely when the (strict) EBF conditions are met.

BertieBotts Thu 31-Jul-14 17:12:00

ie, you can, but there's no guarantee that you will if that makes sense.

BertieBotts Thu 31-Jul-14 17:13:07

But most common doesn't mean exclusively.

It's really up to you - if you trust the sources and you feel happy with the risk then do it. I personally wouldn't unless I felt happy with the idea of two under one as a rare chance.

The pill isn't 100% either even with perfect use.

AuntieStella Thu 31-Jul-14 17:15:28

"it is possible to have one or (occasionally) more periods before you start ovulating"

It is possible to have anovulatory cycles at any time

Viviennemary Thu 31-Jul-14 17:18:52

I was told it was very possible to conceive even if you were EBF.

AdoraBell Thu 31-Jul-14 17:21:24

When my DDs were small my HV told me of another family she saw who used EBF. The second pregnancy was twins so they had 3 babies under a year old. She told me you shouldn't get PG while BFing but that doesn't you can't.

AdoraBell Thu 31-Jul-14 17:24:30

Doesn't mean you can't.

Please excuse sausage fingers.

FoodieMum3 Thu 31-Jul-14 17:32:35

Ladies, I thought I was going mad. I knew I read it somewhere (about the period before ovulation before 6 months) but I could not remember where.

Then a lightbulb went off and I remembered it was in a book I ordered on amazon a few weeks ago: 'The food of love' by Kate Evans. Maybe some of you know it?

On page 172 it says:

For the first 6 months of total breastfeeding it is unlikely but not impossible, that your fertility will return. If it does, then you'll get a warning period first, before you ovulate. So the rule is, as long as you haven't had a period yet, you're safe for first 6 months. If you do get a period, you have to use contraception from that point onwards. Lactation all amenorrhea, as this method is known, is 98% effective. That's as good as the pill

I am so, so glad I asked this question. What a serious mistake to publish, I really would have believed it and feel so silly now.

Thank you all.

gamescompendium Thu 31-Jul-14 17:33:36

I EBF all three of mine (no formula, no food before 6 months, no dummy, no expressed milk) on demand. DD2 was an incredibly efficient feeder and had big gaps between feeds (3-4h, longer at night), my periods returned after 4 months. DD1 my periods returned after 7 months and I had 2 periods before I was pregnant again. DS (PNTC) I can't remember! 6-7 months probably.

I know several women who EBF and had a gap less than a year, including my MW who didn't realise she was pregnant until she was 5 months pregnant!

FoodieMum3 Thu 31-Jul-14 17:34:43

After 6 months, the picture changes. Your fertility could still return at any time but you could now sneakily ovulate before you get a period

LaurieMarlow Thu 31-Jul-14 19:12:35

Friends of mine got caught out like this. She met the strict ebf conditions, no warning period - so pretty shocked to find herself pregnant again. Not the end of the world for them, but definitely a lot sooner than intended.

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