Wondering if IVF treatment affects your baby or your supply?
Does breastfeeding stop you getting pregnant?
If you are using or deciding to use IVF to get pregnant, and you are breastfeeding, you may have questions and concerns.
Breastfeeding and fertility
It is well known that breastfeeding can be a form of contraception. The Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) is listed by the World Health Organization as an accepted and effective method of contraception. It is 98% effective if your menstrual cycle has not returned, your baby is less than 6 months of age and you are exclusively breastfeeding. So while your baby continues to breastfeed frequently, you are less likely to get pregnant.
However, breastfeeding mothers begin menstruating again at different times after giving birth. For some mums, their period returns as early as a few weeks after giving birth and for others it can take years. Therefore, there isn’t a general rule about whether a mum may need to stop breastfeeding before beginning IVF treatment.
If you have resumed regular ovulation and menstruation while continuing to breastfeed, then weaning in order to start IVF may not increase your chances of falling pregnant.
Will fertility drugs affect my milk supply or my baby’s health?
You may be concerned about fertility drugs used in IVF. The potential risk of using any drug while breastfeeding needs to be weighed up (in consultation with a health professional) against the nutritional, immunological and emotional importance of breastfeeding.
Will I be able to breastfeed after IVF?
If any breastfeeding problems occur after IVF, they may be related to the reasons for using IVF in the first place. For example, if you have polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), this may be the reason you need IVF, but it may also be the reason you have low milk supply.
IVF is also associated with an increased risk of caesarean section, premature delivery, multiple births and reduced confidence in mothering. These situations may make it a bit more difficult for you to get breastfeeding started, but it won't be impossible.
Weaning before undergoing IVF is a personal decision and depends on your individual situation. You will need to decide whether you prefer to continue breastfeeding or to wean, or to delay starting IVF until both you and your child are ready to wean.
The information on this website does not replace advice from your health care providers.