Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM)
Many different hormonal forms of birth control have a negative impact on breastfeeding and can lower a mother's milk supply.
For a mother who is exclusively breastfeeding, an excellent form of birth control is the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM).
What is LAM?
LAM is a natural family planning method. It’s an effective form of birth control, if used correctly.
How does it work?
When you are breastfeeding on demand (at least every 4 hours during the day and every 6 hours at night), your body doesn't make a hormone needed to release an egg. Pregnancy cannot happen if an egg is not released.
If you answer “yes” to all of the following statements, then LAM may be an option for you:
- My baby is less than 6 months old.
- My monthly period has not yet returned.
- My baby is fully breastfed (only getting breastfed and receiving vitamin D).
- My baby breast feeds on demand (at least every 4 hours during the day and at least every 6 hours at night).
If you are not planning a pregnancy and have answered no to even one of the above statements, you must use another form of birth control.
What are the pros of using breastfeeding as birth control?
Breastfeeding provides many benefits to both mom and baby. It is free, simple and convenient.
What are the cons of using breastfeeding as birth control?
It must be used correctly, or there is a risk of pregnancy. LAM does not protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Also, this form of birth control only works for the first 6 months. After that, you will need to consider another form of birth control.
What should I do after six months?
It's important to start thinking about a secondary form of birth control now. That way, when you no longer meet one of the four LAM criteria, there is no gap in birth control. However, you want to make sure that the birth control method you choose is compatible with breastfeeding. The following birth control options have no impact on breastfeeding:
- Male and female condoms
- Intra-Uterine Device (IUD with copper wire)
- Tubal ligation
Hormonal birth control
If you decide to use hormonal birth control, you want to choose one that is progestin only. However, it’s important to note that even progestin-only birth control can have an impact or your milk supply. If you notice your milk supply dropping while you’re on any form of hormonal birth control, switch to a different method.
The mini-pill and Depo-Provera are progestin-only options of birth control. Depo-Provera is longer acting. If you are thinking about using a progestin-only method of birth control, you may wish to use the mini-pill first. The mini-pill can be stopped more easily if you notice an effect on your milk supply.
For more information, please call our Healthy Families Hotline: 519-258-2146, ext. 1350.