Breastfeeding as Birth Control

2018-02-21T20:28:40+00:00February 21st, 2018|Categories: Fertility Blog|Tags: , , , , , |

Throughout history, women have used breastfeeding as a natural contraceptive. Researchers have found evidence of Egyptian, Native Alaskan and early European populations recognizing the connection between breastfeeding and family planning. This method of birth control is known as the Lactational Amenorrhea Method or LAM.

The LAM method works because when you are breastfeeding, prolactin production is in high gear. The same hormone that tells our body to make milk, also keeps ovaries from releasing eggs. Without eggs available for fertilization, no pregnancy can occur. Studies show that LAM is 99% effective for short-term contraception as long as guidelines are followed.

The guidelines for the LAM method are simple to follow-

1. Watch for return of menses – For exclusively breastfeeding moms, you can expect to have a 6-12 month break from your monthly “lady’s days.” When your period returns, ovulation often comes too.

2. Exclusively breastfeed – Breastmilk provides all the food and fluid your baby needs to grow. There is no need to supplement with any additional foods until after 6 months or when your baby is ready to start eating complementary foods. Some babies aren’t ready until 7-8 months, watch your baby for signs they are interested in trying new foods.

3. Your baby is under 6 month of age – sleeping through the night 6+ hours and the introduction of complimentary foods usually happen around the 6 month milestone. Ovulation suppression is governed by how much milk you are making so the less milk your baby requires the lower prolactin level and ovulation restarts.

When all three of these conditions exist, you have has less than a two percent chance of becoming pregnant. Since no birth control method is 100% effective, LAM is as effective as condoms or oral contraceptives.

Scientific studies conducted around the world by the Institute for Reproductive Health and other organizations have proven that when guidelines are followed, LAM is an effective, safe, convenient short-term way for breastfeeding women to plan their pregnancies.