If you’ve been considering postpartum birth control methods, then you must have come across breastfeeding as a form of birth control. This method is called lactational amenorrhea method or LAM. So is this method something that truly works? Or should you look into other methods for birth control? Keep reading to find out!

Breastfeeding as birth control: How it works

Breastfeeding is great for your child – as the breast milk helps your child get the necessary early nutrients for better growth. And it turns out that it is great for you too – because it can indeed be utilized as a birth control measure! When you exclusively breastfeed your child, your ovulations gets halted. And if you’re not ovulating then you cannot possibly get pregnant! This is how LAM acts as a birth control.

Success rates of LAM method

LAM has been found to be quite effective as a birth control method about 98% of the times. It can successfully delay your periods. But its success is also dependant on a number of additional factors. First of all, in order to make it an effective birth control method, you have to exclusively breastfeed your child. What this means is, you must nurse your child each day at every 4 hours in day time and in night time the frequency should be every 6 hours. There cannot be long gaps between the feeding sessions, or the efficacy of this method will gradually lessen.

Secondly, if your periods have returned postpartum, then this method will no longer act as a birth control method. You’ll be better off using other forms of control.

Thirdly, if your baby is more than 6 months old, then again the efficacy of LAM goes down. This method works best in the initial post partum months. The older your baby gets, the less will it be dependent on breast milk and with the resultant decrease in feeding, the effectiveness of LAM will also decrease.

Fourthly, a lot depends on your hormones. Every woman is different, and in some women the level of progesterone hormone may be lower than others. Lower progesterone levels mean that after giving birth, you’ll be in all likeliness become fertile sooner. In other words, your ovulations will begin and periods will return sooner. In such cases, breastfeeding may not be of much help.

Is breastfeeding a reliable birth control method?

In the light of the above information, it can be said that exclusive breastfeeding does make it less likely for you to get pregnant but to be safe, it is always better to use an alternative birth control method as well. Depending solely on breastfeeding is always a risky proposition.

Alternative birth control

Given below are some of the effective birth control methods you can use, when you’re breastfeeding:

 Birth control pill: This is by far the most common method. After consulting with your doctor, you can start taking birth control pills that suit you the best. These pills contain estrogens and progesterone hormones, which halt the ovulation process but do not affect your breast milk.

Injected birth control: This works same as the pill. Only here, the hormones are injected in your body. One shot of this acts as an effective birth control method for about 3 months. So, you’ll have to get this shot on a quarterly basis. It’s totally safe for breastfeeding as well.

Copper IUD: Intra uterine devices are a yet another popular method, where once inserted in the body, the copper disables sperms from meeting the egg for a long period of time – typically 10 to 12 years. This method is often favoured by women because it just needs to be inserted once and gives protection for years.

Implantable rod: If you’re uncomfortable about the IUD, then this one is an alternative. Here a small rod delivering progesterone is inserted under the skin of your upper arm, in the inner part. It provides you protection for about 3 years, and it is safe for breastfeeding moms.

Condoms: This is a no brainer. You have the option of either having your partner use a condom or you can go for female condoms as well. This is a reliable birth control method and safe too, especially when you’re nursing.

So, along with diminishing your chances of pregnancy with exclusive breastfeeding, consider one alternative birth control method as well, in order to ensure there are no surprises later!

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