“Oh you don’t have to worry about getting pregnant; you’re breastfeeding!”
And nine months later, you have a baby.
It’s true – breastfeeding interferes with the release of certain hormones your body needs in order to ovulate. it’s not 100% that it will. And there have to be very specific requirements in order for it to actually work.
So let’s talk about what those requirements are, how long you can rely on breastfeeding as birth control, and how effective it really is.
Additional reading: Birth Control When Breastfeeding: Everything You Need to Know
Is Breastfeeding Birth Control?
Breastfeeding can delay your menstrual cycle from returning. However, simply breastfeeding doesn’t mean you won’t get pregnant. If you want to use breastfeeding as birth control, it’s important to know exactly when it can work – and when it doesn’t.
Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM)
When it comes to preventing pregnancy while breastfeeding, the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (more commonly known as LAM) is the method that you’ll come across.
There are three “requirements” that play a role in the effectiveness of the LAM method
- Your baby was born within 6 months ago.
- You exclusively breastfeed – no supplementing, solids, etc.
- You have not had a period since delivery.
While it’s not part of the three tier list, I’ve also heard people say that if your baby is sleeping through the night, you probably don’t want to rely on LAM for preventing pregnancy.
How Effective is LAM?
When you are properly using LAM, it is about 98% effective, which is similar to other forms of birth control.
I would definitely not use this method if you are 100000% not okay with accidentally getting pregnant (and as I’m sure you know – the only 100% form of birth control is abstinence!)
If you are a little nervous about relying just on LAM, you could always do things like:
- Track ovulation using OPK tests
- Track ovulation something like the Mira Fertility Monitor (use code TBM25 for $25 off)
- Temperature track using a Basal Body Thermometer
- Although Ava Fertility Trackers are not considered birth control, they can give you an idea of if/when you are starting to ovulate again.
- Use condoms as a backup method
Breastfeeding as a form of birth control isn’t for everyone. However, if you are part of that small group of women meeting the requirements listed above, it might work out well for you.
Katie Clark is an International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC). She has helped thousands of mothers and families around the globe navigate breastfeeding challenges and questions since 2015. She has a passion for creating research-based, helpful breastfeeding education and helping parents find a way to make breastfeeding work for them. Katie is a mom of three little boys and lives in the great state of Colorado. She also has a degree in Communications with an emphasis in print journalism.