Planned Parenthood

Breastfeeding as Birth Control

Breastfeeding as Birth Control at a Glance

  • Sometimes called LAM (Lactational Amenorrhea Method)
  • A natural way to prevent pregnancy after giving birth
  • Effective, safe, convenient, and free
  • Lasts for up to six months after giving birth

Breastfeeding as Birth ControlIs Breastfeeding as Birth Control Right for Me?

Women who have just given birth may use continuous breastfeeding as a method of birth control. Here are some of the most common questions we hear women ask about using breastfeeding as birth control.

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How Is Breastfeeding Used as Birth Control?

Breastfeeding can be used as birth control when, after giving birth, a woman breastfeeds her baby exclusively. That means the baby does not drink anything besides breast milk. The act of breastfeeding naturally changes a woman's hormones so that she does not become pregnant.

How Does Breastfeeding Prevent Pregnancy?

While a woman is continuously breastfeeding, her body does not make a hormone that is necessary for ovulation — the release of an egg from an ovary. Pregnancy cannot happen if an egg is not released.

How Effective Is Using Breastfeeding as Birth Control?

Effectiveness is an important and common concern when choosing a birth control method. Like all birth control methods, breastfeeding is much more effective when you do it correctly.

  • Less than 1 out of 100 women who practice continuous breastfeeding perfectly will become pregnant.
  • About 2 out of 100 women who use continuous breastfeeding will become pregnant in the first six months if they don't always practice it correctly.

Using breastfeeding as birth control can be effective for six months after delivery only if a woman

  • does not substitute other foods for a breast milk meal
  • feeds her baby at least every four hours during the day and every six hours at night
  • has not had a period since she delivered her baby

Keep in mind that breastfeeding does not protect you from sexually transmitted diseases. Use a latex or female condom to reduce the risk of infection.

Also keep in mind that breastfeeding can only be relied on for six months after delivery. By the time your baby is six months old, you should start using another birth control method.

How Safe Is Breastfeeding?

Using breastfeeding as birth control is safe — there are no side effects.

What Are the Benefits of Using Breastfeeding as Birth Control?

Breastfeeding is safe, simple, and convenient.

Using breastfeeding as birth control has advantages for mothers. It

  • does not affect a woman's natural hormone balance
  • is immediately effective
  • is free
  • requires no prescription
  • needs nothing to be put in place before vaginal intercourse
  • reduces bleeding after delivery
  • requires no supplies or medical supervision

Breastfeeding also has many health advantages for the baby. It

  • decreases the likelihood of infection from germs in water, other milk, or formula
  • increases body contact and enhances comfort for the child and bonding between mother and child
  • passes on some of the mother's antibodies to protect the baby from certain infections
  • protects against the development of allergies and may protect against the development of asthma
  • provides the best nutrition

What Are the Disadvantages of Using Breastfeeding as Birth Control?

You can only rely on breastfeeding to prevent pregnancy for six months. Some women find it hard to exclusively breastfeed and not use any formula. If formula is given to the baby, the woman has a chance of getting pregnant again.

Breastfeeding may reduce vaginal lubrication when a woman is aroused. It may also make a woman feel like her breasts are less sexual.

How Do I Start Breastfeeding?

Many mothers begin breastfeeding shortly after giving birth. If you have problems with breastfeeding, get help as soon as possible so that lactation is not interrupted. A doctor, nurse, or midwife can help. Some women get help from a lactation expert. La Leche League can also help you find information and resources to help you breastfeed.

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Breastfeeding as Birth Control