Breastfeeding for Birth Control

Lactational Amenorrhea Method

Average Failure Rate: 6%

Even today, breastfeeding prevents more pregnancies in the world than all other methods of birth control combined. Utilizing what is known about the endocrine system and patterns of fertility in nursing women, a highly effective, temporary method of contraception has been developed called the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM). It can be used as long as a women nurses her baby frequently and has no periods.

LAM is completely natural and does not subject the infant to unnecessary synthetic steriod hormones, which can appear in the breastmilk of women using oral contraceptives, implants, injections, and IUDs.

Benefits of Breastfeeding

  • Breast milk is the most complete form of nutrition for infants. Babies find it easier to digest breast milk than formula.
  • Premature babies do better when breastfed instead of being fed formula.
  • Breastfed babies score higher on IQ tests.
  • Nursing uses up extra calories, making it easier to lose pregnancy pounds.
  • Nursing helps the uterus to get back to its original size and reduces postpartum bleeding.
  • Breastfeeding delays the return of menstruation and fertility.
  • Breastfeeding lowers the risk of breast and ovarian cancers.
  • Breastfeeding saves time and money. No expensive formula to purchase.
  • Breastfeeding requires a mother to take some quiet relaxed time for herself and her baby.
  • Physical contact is important to newborns. Breastfeeding can help a mother to bond with her baby.

Among breastfeeding women, menstruation will usually not occur for several months after the birth of a child. In fact, most breastfeeding women do not ovulate for four to 24 months after delivery, whereas non-breastfeeding women can ovulate as early as one or two months after delivery. The hormone that stimulates milk production decreases the hormone necessary for maintaining the menstrual cycle.

For breastfeeding to act as an effective contraceptive, a woman must nurse ten or more times throughout the day and introduce no other foods into her baby's diet. Because babies need extra food at about six months, it is not recommended that this method be used beyond that time. Although nursing can act as a contraceptive for as long as three years, it will not postpone menstruation indefinitely. Many breastfeeding women will not ovulate until after the first period, but the longer LAM is used, the more likely it is that ovulation will precede the first menses. Cervical mucus changes will herald the first ovulation; a woman should start checking daily at six weeks postpartum. Pregnant women and new mothers should confer with a trained counselor before initiating LAM. Women with no periods who breastfeed without practicing LAM, have a pregnancy rate of 6% over a year. Perfect users can expect a failure rate of only 0.5%.

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