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Can I Become Pregnant While Breastfeeding?

Yes, you can become pregnant even if you have not had your menstrual period since your baby was born. If you are breastfeeding it may take several months for your menstrual periods to start again. You may become pregnant before your first period if you are not using birth control.

Birth control methods that use hormones, such as 'the pill', 'the patch' or Depo-Provera may decrease your milk supply. Condoms, spermicidal jelly and diaphragms will not affect breastfeeding.

The Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) is another kind of birth control.

Please read the following very carefully if you plan to prevent a pregnancy using this method.

You must be able to say 'Yes' to all of the following statements to prevent a pregnancy using LAM:

  • [  ] My baby is less than 6 months old.
  • [  ] My baby is fully or almost fully breastfed.
         He has no more than 1 to 2 mouthfuls of
         fluid or food other than breastmilk a day.
  • [  ] I am breastfeeding at least every 4 hours
         during the day and at least every 6 hours
         at night.
  • [  ] My monthly period has not returned.
         Please Note: Bleeding or  spotting in the first
         2 months after your baby is born is normal.
         Bleeding after the baby is 2 months old may
         mean that you are fertile and could
         become pregnant.

If you answer 'Yes' to all of these statements, you have only a 1 to 2% chance of getting pregnant.

If you answer 'No' to any of these statements, you will need to use another birth control method.

For more information about birth control while breastfeeding speak to:

  • A lactation consultant
  • Your midwife
  • A La Leche League member
  • Your local Public Health Office
  • Your family doctor


Caring for Yourself

What Should I Eat and Drink?

Healthy eating is good for your body, especially when you are breastfeeding.  While you are breastfeeding you may feel more hungry and thirsty.

Eating well with Canada's Food Guide gives you advice on how to choose foods.

If you do not have a copy, please ask your doctor or midwife, a dietitian or visit Health Canada's website: www.hc-sc.gc.ca (click on Canada's Food Guide)

Every day, enjoy a variety of foods from each of the 4 food groups:

  • Vegetables and fruit
  • Grain products
  • Milk and alternatives
  • Meat and alternatives

Healthy foods to choose more often are:

  • Dark green and orange vegetables
  • Fresh, frozen or canned fruits
  • Whole grain and enriched products
  • Lower fat foods and milk products
  • Leaner meats, poultry and fish
  • Dried peas, beans and lentils

Eating Well with Canada's Food Guide gives a range of servings for each food group.  Follow the guidelines for breastfeeding mothers.

You do not need to increase the calcium in your diet while breastfeeding.


Caffeine is found in drinks such as coffee, iced and hot tea and cola.   Foods like chocolate that are made from cocoa contain caffeine too.   Caffeine is also found in some medications for colds or headaches.

Caffeine passes into breastmilk.  If you drink a moderate amount of caffeine there should be no effect on a healthy full-term baby.  A moderate amount is no more than 3 cups (750 ml or 24 ounces) a day of drinks that contain caffeine.  Please note, caffeine may have a different effect on a preterm or sick baby. 

Alcohol and Drugs

Alcohol passes into breastmilk, so it is best not to drink any alcohol, such as wine, beer or liquor while you are breastfeeding.

If you choose to drink alcohol while you are breastfeeding, it is best to limit yourself to small amounts, drink with food, and when your baby is not likely to breastfeed for a few hours.

For example, if a mother who weighs 150 pounds has 2 alcoholic drinks, it will take 4½ hours before her breastmilk is clear of alcohol.  If her baby is ready to feed before then, it would be best to feed him breastmilk that was expressed earlier, when the mother’s milk was clear of alcohol.

Recreational or street drugs such as marijuana, are not recommended during breastfeeding.

For more information call Motherisk at 1-877-327-4636 or visit www.motherisk.org

Herbal Teas

Some herbal teas are not safe to drink while breastfeeding.  The herbs in these teas have drug-like effects which can be passed to your baby through your breastmilk.  This can be harmful to your baby.

There is little information available from research about which herbal teas are safe to drink.  These herbal teas are considered safe to drink as they have little or no effect on your body:

  • Citrus peel
  • Orange peel
  • Ginger
  • Rosehip
  • Linden flower (not recommended for people with heart problems)


Food That Affects Your Baby

If you think your baby seems to get gas or become irritable from certain foods you have eaten, stop eating them for a few days.  Then, try them again in small amounts to see if your baby is still affected.

For more information:

  • call Motherisk at 1-877-327-4636 or visit www.motherisk.org
  • Talk to a health care provider.