Breastfeeding has many benefits to mothers—one of which is a delay in the return of fertility. Many mothers enjoy a year or more without periods after the birth of their babies. Breastfeeding as a birth control method is referred to as the lactational ammenorrhea method or LAM. LAM is over 98% effective* when the following conditions are met:
Your periods have not returned. It is possible to ovulate before your period returns!
Your baby is under 6 months of age. Although you may remain infertile long after 6 months, the reliability of this method decreases with the age of the baby—probably because of the introduction of solid foods.
Your baby has nothing by mouth except the breast. In other words, the baby is not supplemented with other foods and is not using a pacifier for long periods.
Your baby is breastfeeding at least every 3 hours during the day and at least every 6 hours at night. There IS a benefit to waking at night with your baby! If your baby is up frequently during the night, you’re protected from another pregnancy!
It is important to discuss birth control options with your partner and your doctor. Keep in mind that for at least 6 months any additional birth control you choose will be a back up to LAM.
*Please note: It is unknown whether pumping your milk for your baby provides the same protection as exclusive breastfeeding.
Written by Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC. Renee is a lactation consultant in private practice in Seattle, Washington. She is available for home/hospital visits and phone consultations. Renee can be reached at www.second9months.com