Birth control is the method of preventing undesirable pregnancies from occurring by the use of contraceptives. There are a multitude of methods/products available in the market for contraception. However, lactating mothers can essentially prevent an unplanned pregnancy while they are breastfeeding their child. This method of birth control is known as ‘Lactational Amenorrhea Method’ or LAM.
What is LAM?
LAM is the exclusive breastfeeding method. It refers to the natural postpartum infertility that occurs when a woman is not ovulating due to exclusive breastfeeding. This occurs when you breastfeed your child and nurse at least every 4 hours during the day and every 6 hours during the night.
What is the efficacy rate of LAM?
If done right, LAM is as efficacious a method of birth control as hormonal contraceptives. LAM is about 98-99.5% effective in preventing an unplanned pregnancy, however, all the criteria for it to be effective should be met:
Your child is less than 6 months old.
Your child has been receiving only breast milk.
You have been exclusive breastfeeding (both day and night).
Your periods haven’t returned.
You have not been using a breast pump.
Well, who knew the surprising benefits of breastfeeding!
How to maximize the period of postpartum infertility and start LAM?
Breastfeeding as birth control method should be used carefully. You can start LAM as a method for contraception as soon as your baby is born. Since a woman will stop ovulating for a time period post her pregnancy, it a great method for contraception. However, it is important to remember that each mother is different and the return of fertility depends on the mother’s sensitivity to hormones involved in lactation as well as her child’s nursing pattern.
Higher effectiveness rates to avoid pregnancy can be attained by practicing ecological breastfeeding. This is how to do it:
Keep your child close.
Use breastfeeding as a method to comfort your child.
Do no use any bottles or pacifiers.
Do not use a breast pump.
Do not give your child any solid food and rely only on breast milk as a source of nourishment.
Breastfeed in a lying down position during the night.
Conceiving naturally post LAM:
Once your child is older than 6 months your fertility will return naturally. The return of your fertility is a gradual and step-by- step occurrence. The time required for transition to complete fertility varies from woman to woman. Once your periods have returned to their regular cycle, it is unlikely that breastfeeding will affect your fertility.
Many women can conceive naturally without deliberately changing their child’s nursing pattern. Some mothers need to stretch out the frequency of nursing and/or shorten nursing sessions to make it easier to conceive. Babies will do this naturally as they get older, so one of your options is to wait a bit. Abrupt changes in breastfeeding tends to bring fertility back a lot faster (E.g. cutting out on the nursing time abruptly instead of opting for weaning).
Consult with your doctor or gynecologist if you have any lingering doubts about breastfeeding