Nishmat's Women’s Health and HalachaIn memory of Chaya Mirel bat R' Avraham

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Conception and breastfeeding

22 June, 2006

Question:

According to the doctor, my wife will not start menstruating again till she stops giving breast milk, that will delay a lot her next "conception of a baby"…Can I ask her to start giving formula? Our baby is 6 months old.


Answer:

Breastfeeding is halachically encouraged, especially for the first two years of life, without concern for the potential reduction in fecundity during that time.  Desire to speed fulfillment of the command to procreate is not taken as reason to desist from breastfeeding.  Additionally, breastfeeding itself, as a form of involvement in and giving sustenance to the child, may be considered a part of fulfilling the command to be fruitful and multiply.  Thus, to cease breastfeeding with the hopes of conceiving again more quickly could present more halachic difficulties than continuing to breastfeed. 

We do not mean to discourage you from discussing your desire to have another child soon with your wife.  But your desire does not have strong halachic support.

On a medical note, after six months, even a woman who breastfeeds fully and has not yet menstruated may conceive.  See our article on the Lactational Amenorrhea Method for more details.


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