Your body went through a roller coaster ride of changes during pregnancy, and breastfeeding is another adventure on its own. Whether you’re planning to have another baby or not, you may want to give yourself some time to rest and recover before having another pregnancy.
You may have heard that breastfeeding itself can prevent a pregnancy — and, yes, it’s true! BUT simply breastfeeding doesn’t immediately guarantee that you’re completely protected from pregnancy.
Here are a few things you need to know about the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) as a temporary contraceptive.
How does LAM work?
“Lactational” means breastfeeding, while “amenorrhea” refers to not having monthly menstruation. So, what do these two have to do with preventing pregnancy?
Prolactin (the hormone that stimulates milk production) and oxytocin (the hormone responsible for your let-down reflex) both prevent ovulation. Thus, inhibiting the menstrual cycle as well. Without an egg cell released by the ovaries, there’s nothing for the sperm cells to fertilize and result in pregnancy.
How can I use LAM correctly?
The hormonal benefits of breastfeeding may act as a natural and temporary contraceptive for women who are:
- less than 6 months postpartum;
- exclusively breastfeeding, and;
- haven’t menstruated yet.
Take note that you need to have all 3 criteria for LAM to be highly effective.
However, a study found that only 1 out of 4 women are able to use LAM properly. So if you’d like to use LAM correctly, here are the things you should do:
Follow your baby’s lead and feed on demand. It should be at least 10 to 12 times a day in the first few weeks after childbirth. Lower it to 8 to 10 times a day thereafter, including at least once at night in the first months.
Daytime feedings should be at least every 4 hours, while night-time feedings should be every 6 hours. Take note that pumping is NOT a substitute when using LAM.
Practice exclusive breastfeeding during the first 6 months
Delay introducing other foods and avoid supplementing with formula or anything else in addition to breastmilk. Only do so when the baby is 6 months old.
Also, avoid giving your baby a pacifier. Let him/her suck, snuggle up, and breastfeed.
Keep in mind that LAM will only be effective if your baby is under 6 months old and your period hasn’t returned.
Lactational amenorrhea method is a highly effective natural and temporary contraceptive method if it’s done correctly. However, it’s best to have a chat with your midwife or OB if you’re interested in using postpartum contraception.
On the flip side, reaching out to your doctor is also a good idea if you’re keen on having another baby soon.