A growing number of new mothers are accidentally falling pregnant because they are not receiving the right contraceptive advice.
As the number of women breastfeeding increases, experts say they are seeing a rise in unexpected pregnancies, with women believing that breastfeeding offers secure contraception.
The sexual health charity, the British Pregnancy Advisory Service (bpas) has issued the warning after an ‘anecdotal, but definite rise’ in pregnancies.
Breastfeeding can provide effective contraception, but missing even one feed negates the effect, experts warn
A spokesperson from bpas told MailOnline: 'Women are coming to our clinics having become pregnant by mistake.
'Often, their GP has told them that breastfeeding is an effective form of contraception.
'It is an excellent for of contraception - if you do it exclusively. If you miss one feed, it is not reliable.
'Exclusive breastfeeding can provide highly effective contraceptive cover, but only if strict criteria are met.'
NHS data shows that whilst there has been an increase in the prevalence of exclusive breastfeeding at birth, from 65 of women in 2005 to 69 per cent in 2010, the majority of women are choosing to supplement breast feeding with formula by the time their baby is one week old.
Consequently, they are not be protected from unplanned pregnancy.
The spokesperson added: 'It is worrying to hear that some women are not receiving accurate information about the contraceptive cover provided by breastfeeding and that some are even receiving conflicting advice from different medical professionals about what contraception they can use whilst breastfeeding.
'At bpas, we are concerned to see women facing the turmoil of an unplanned pregnancy within months of giving birth, including new mums who had not been given the right advice from medical professionals about contraception whilst breastfeeding.
'Given the emphasis on encouraging women to breastfeed, it is incredibly important that information is given about the limitations of this as a form of effective contraception, and what other methods can safely be used at the same time.'
The survey, by bpas and Mumsnet has found gaps in contraception advice and support given to new mothers who breastfeed.
There has been an 'anecdotal, but definite rise' in pregnancies - and experts say new mothers not being given the right contraceptive advice is to blame
It found that 32 per cent of women who were breastfeeding or planning to breastfeed said that safe contraception when breastfeeding was not discussed or raised at all by healthcare professionals.
There are a range of contraceptives that are safe to use while breastfeeding - including progestogen-based methods such as the coil and mini-pill.
Of more than 1,000 women who had given birth in the last three years the majority did not discuss post-natal contraception with a healthcare professional whilst they were pregnant.
While more than half did not discuss it until their postnatal check at around six weeks, both of which are contrary to the expert guidance issued by the National Institute of Clinical Excellence (NICE) and the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG).The survey revealed that 55 per cent of women who planned to use breastfeeding as a method of contraception said that no healthcare professional discussed with them what form of contraception they would use when they stopped or reduced feeds.
Tracey Forsyth, bpas lead contraception nurse, said: 'More women are breastfeeding and are breastfeeding for longer.
'However, as women are encouraged to breastfeed, it is vital that they are also offered consistent, accurate advice about the effectiveness of breastfeeding as a method of contraception and information about safe methods of contraception that they can use.
Justine Roberts, Mumsnet co-founder said: 'It would be helpful if mothers - whether breastfeeding or not - were offered access to clear, consistent advice from the medical profession before and after the birth.'
The initial breastfeeding rate in the UK has increased from 76 per cent in 2005 to 81 per cent in 2010.
The prevalence of breastfeeding at six weeks increasing from 48 per cent of women in 2005 to 55 per cent in 2010, and from 28 per cent at four months in 2005 to 34 per cent in 2010.
For more information: www.bpas.org
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/health/article-2282763/Unplanned-pregnancies-rise-new-mothers-wrongly-rely-breastfeeding-contraception.html#ixzz2LebDFgK7
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