TRADITIONAL METHODS OF CONTRACEPTION: BREASTFEEDING

Why is breastfeeding called a method of contraception? Most women do not have periods while they are fully breastfeeding their babies. Fully breastfeeding means you are not giving the baby any other foods, or bottles of milk. Traditionally, many women thought they could not become pregnant because they were not having periods, so they used breastfeeding as their method of contraception. We now know that it is possible for breastfeeding women to become pregnant even if they have not had a period since their baby was born, but we will talk about that a bit later.

How does breastfeeding stop you becoming pregnant? When a baby sucks on the breast, the mother’s body has a hormonal response. This hormonal response affects the mothers ovaries and stops them from releasing any eggs. If there is no egg available to be fertilised, there will be no pregnancy.

Why would I want to choose breastfeeding as a method of contraception? If you want to fully breastfeed your baby and you are prepared to accept a slight risk of another pregnancy during the first six months, then it may suit you just to rely on breastfeeding. It may especially suit you if you intend to have another child eventually, and would be able to accept an unexpected pregnancy were it to happen. Other reasons for choosing to rely on breastfeeding for a while include that it is free, and it gives you the opportunity to have a rest from using other methods of contraception.

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