You may heard or experienced first-hand that breastfeeding delays the return of your periods and your fertility (which is called lactation amenorrhea) and that some people use it as a form of contraception for the first 6-months postpartum.
Ready for the geeky biology bit to explain why? Here goes!
The frequency and duration of suckling at the breast stimulates a reduction in the release of gonadotropin releasing hormone (GmRH) which stops the very important follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinising hormone (LH) being produced. Without FSH and LH your follicles will stay quiet and won’t be told to develop. Without your follicles producing oestrogen or you actually ovulating, there is no period!
So how does this relate to birth control?
Some women choose to use the Lactation Amenorrhea Method (“LAM”) of birth control during the first 6-months postpartum. It is 98% effective in stopping pregnancy *IF* these 7 standards of ecological breastfeeding are followed:
- Breastfeed exclusively for the first 6 months postpartum
- Nurse frequently day and night – avoid schedules
- Co-sleep with your baby for night feedings
- Sleep with your baby for a daily nap feedings (“contact naps”)
- Pacify and/or comfort your baby at your breasts
- Don’t use bottles or pacifiers
- Avoid any practices that restrict nursing or separate you from your baby
**BUT a huge word of caution, my friends!**
Many breastfeeding mamas who nurse day and night, contact nap etc. STILL have their periods return waaaaaay before 6 months.
So yes, in theory, LAM can be an effective form of birth control, but if you want to space your children or don’t want another bambino, then proceed with caution.