Breastfeeding as a birth control method
A lot of women have questions and fears about different methods of contraception- in fact, I dare say every woman of childbearing age who is sexually active is on the hunt for the perfect contraception.
Whilst this is aspirational, is it achievable? The reason I say this is that women are all different and will respond differently to different medications and physiological conditions. An ideal contraceptive is one that is safe, easy to access, affordable, effective, with no side effects, and reversible! (Whew! Even I got a headache trying to imagine a particular group that fulfills the brief).
If you’re looking for the above perhaps Lactational amenorrhoea (LAM) is for you???
LAM is a temporary contraceptive method that relies on exclusive breastfeeding. It is recommended that it can only be used reliably from birth up to six months afterward. LAM is between 98% and 99.5% effective in preventing pregnancy when used correctly.
A woman who is exclusively breastfeeding her baby for six months will produce hormones that produce breast milk but they will also work to stop the ovaries from releasing an egg(ovulating)for the first six months after the baby is born.
For this method to work, the following three conditions must be met.
1. Baby is under six months of age AND
2. The woman must not have had a period post-delivery or for the duration of using this method AND
3. The baby must be exclusively breastfed (no formula or water whilst regularly breastfeeding at least every three to four hours during the day and at least every six hours at night).
If any of the above changes then please, please! you are not protected against becoming pregnant so this method is very specific and most importantly not 100% but close enough.
So to summarise LAM is free! Safe, encourage breastfeeding, no hormonal side effects, does not interrupt sexual intercourse BUT it also only lasts for 6 months, depends on exclusive breastfeeding, there is a 2% chance of getting pregnant (minimal but it is there), and does not protect against sexually transmitted infections! It’s not perfect but could it perfect for you right now??!