In the months immediately following the birth of a baby, most couples do not want to conceive again, and most doctors recommend that a woman gives her body time to heal before becoming pregnant with her next child. There are many forms of birth control, but some women choose to rely on the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) to prevent pregnancy by exclusively breastfeeding. This method is not fool-proof, and several conditions must be met for LAM to work as intended, but when practiced perfectly, less than 1 out of 100 women become pregnant. Continue reading to learn if this natural method of birth control will work for you after giving birth.
How LAM Works
When a woman's body is producing breast milk, it changes her hormonal make up and prevents ovulation. If ovulation does not occur, a woman can't become pregnant. However, breastfeeding is not enough to prevent pregnancy, so you will have to be diligent if you want to prevent pregnancy while breastfeeding if you or your partner are not using any other form of birth control.
Regularly Breastfeeding Around the Clock
To keep hormone levels where they need to be to prevent ovulation, you will have to regularly breastfeed your baby around the clock. You should avoid supplementing with formula or feeding pumped breast milk in a bottle during a regular feeding time. You should expect to nurse your newborn 8 to 12 times a day, and not go more than 3 to 4 hours between breastfeeding.
Don't Rely on LAM for More than 6 Months
Extended breastfeeding has become very popular, but LAM will not be effective for the entire time you breastfeed. For LAM to be effective, your baby has to be younger than 6 months old. After this point your hormones will begin regulating, no matter how often you breastfeed, so speak to your doctor about starting a different form of birth control or using a barrier method to prevent pregnancy. Failure to do so can result in a family planning disaster, and you may end up becoming pregnant when you are not ready to be.
Once Menstruation Resumes LAM is Not Effective
Exclusively breastfeeding mothers typically do not resume having periods for months after giving birth. But every woman is different, so while one breastfeeding mother may begin menstruating again after a few months, another woman may not have a period until her baby is weaned. No matter where you fall on the spectrum, if you are exclusively breastfeeding and begin menstruating again, whether you are having regular cycles or not, LAM is no longer a viable option for birth control since you body has begun ovulating again.
For more information on family planning, talk to a place like Abortion Care.