Exclusive breastfeeding (by itself) is 98-99.5% effective in preventing pregnancy when done the right way. This is called the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM). To explain this, your body naturally stops ovulating when you regularly breastfeed your baby and only feed them breastmilk. When you don’t ovulate, you won’t get your period, which lessens the possibility of getting pregnant.
The following breastfeeding conditions must be met for LAM to be effective:
You’ve given birth in the previous six months.
Your menstrual period hasn’t returned since giving birth.
Baby’s exclusively or almost exclusively breastfed, and breastfeeding must be maintained with 4 hours feeding intervals during the day and 6 hours feeding intervals at night.
This birth control method, Lactational Amenorrhea, encourages breastfeeding, which is beneficial for both the mother and the newborn.
However, after six months since childbirth or when your menstruation returns, you must begin using another contraceptive method to prevent getting pregnant. If you notice you start to menstruate again, this signals that you’re fertile and LAM can’t be effective anymore.
Benefits of using the lactational amenorrhea method include:
The mother experiences a decrease in bleeding after childbirth.
Breastfeeding may reduce the mother’s chance of getting breast cancer.
It’s all-natural, has no side effects, and no cost needed.
Reduced risk of infectious disease and improved nutrition for the newborn.
Breastfeeding increases body contact with your baby, which enhances your body.
A few myths about how effective breastfeeding is for preventing pregnancy, as mentioned by Forest Lane Pediatrics. Let’s try to debunk and understand them below.
Myth #1: You can’t rely on breastfeeding to prevent pregnancy.
Breastfeeding CAN be relied on to prevent pregnancy BUT with certain conditions. It can only prevent pregnancy during the first six months after giving birth. The mother’s menstrual cycle has not yet returned. They are exclusively or almost exclusively breastfeeding their newborn, meaning you feed them only breastmilk at least every 4 hours during the day and every 6 hours at night. Exclusive breastfeeding has shown to be a great form of birth control with 98% – 99.5% effectiveness.
“Exclusively breastfeeding” means that you can’t feed your baby formula or anything other than breastmilk. You can “almost exclusively breastfeed” if the supplemental foods of the infant’s nutritional intake don’t exceed 5%-10%.
If the mother doesn’t experience menstrual bleeding and exclusively breastfeed, LAM is 94% effective up to one year postpartum. You should remember that LAM is effective in preventing pregnancy if you only feed your baby breastmilk.
Myth #2: Regardless of the frequency of breastfeeding or when the mother’s menstruation has returned, it will prevent pregnancy.
Frequent breastfeeding and the total amount of time spent feeding every day are the strongest factors in preventing fertility and pregnancy. When nursing frequency and/or duration reduces or an abrupt change happens, a mother is more likely to return to fertility and start her menstruation cycle again.
Keep in mind that menstruation is a sign of fertility in a woman. When a mother shows signs of starting her menstruation cycle again, it means she’s fertile and more likely to get pregnant again easily.
Not all mothers can easily breastfeed, and it’s totally fine. It greatly varies from mother to mother. There are other ways you can prevent pregnancy. But for those who can nurse their little one, use it to your advantage as much as you can. There are many benefits to breastfeeding, and one of them is preventing pregnancy.