If you are breastfeeding exclusively day and night and your baby is under 6 months old, you are unlikely to have any periods or be ovulating. Because of this, some women use breastfeeding as a form of natural contraception, known as the lactational amenorrhea method.
What is in the Breastfeeding (Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM))?
This is a method that uses the hormonal changes that happen when you are breastfeeding as a natural form of contraception
Alternative to Breastfeeding (Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM))
Is breastfeeding a reliable method of contraception?
Research shows when your baby is under 6 months old, you are exclusively breastfeeding day and night, and not having periods, the Lactational Amenorrhoea Method is around 98% effective. This is similar to some of the most effective hormonal and non-hormonal methods. However if any of the these conditions change, then you may be at risk of pregnancy and should not rely on breastfeeding as contraception.
How quickly can a woman get pregnant after birth?
You are at risk of becoming pregnant again from 21 days after you have given birth. Check out our blog for the lowdown on contraception after birth.
Do you need to use contraception while breastfeeding?
If your baby is under 6 months old, you are exclusively breastfeeding day and night, and not having periods, you can rely on breastfeeding (aka the lactational amenorrhoea method) for contraception. If any of these conditions change, for example your baby starts to sleep through the night which reduces feeding time, or you express milk, you will need to use another form of reliable contraception.
How long can lactational amenorrhea last?
Hormonal changes associated with breastfeeding can mean you do not have periods whilst breastfeeding, however research shows this can only be used as reliable contraception during the first 6 months after giving birth.
What are the advantages of the lactational amenorrhea method?
LAM is a form of natural contraception and allows you to take advantage of your body's natural hormonal response to breastfeeding to prevent pregnancy. If all conditions are met you do not need to use another form of contraception until this changes.
How the Breastfeeding (Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM)) works:
The lactational amenorrhea method works based on three conditions: that your baby is under 6 months old, that you are not menstruating, and that you are exclusively breastfeeding day and night (not expressing). If any of these conditions change, you should not reply on breastfeeding as contraception. Find out more about your contraception options after birth.
How to use the Breastfeeding (Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM)):
You can starting using the lactational amenorrhea method as soon as your baby is born either until they are 6 months old, or you have your first period post-birth. It is important that you do not express milk or feed your baby other foods during this time as this may reduce your lactation which can impact on ovulation. To ensure the method is effective, you must feed at least every 4 hours during the day and every 6 hours at night.
How safe is the Breastfeeding (Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM)):
There are no medical risks when using the lactational amenorrhea method. The only thing that can go wrong is that it can lead to an unexpected pregnancy. You are not protected from STIs when you use this method.