Can breastfeeding be used as a method of birth control?

BF SkintoSkin
Yes, breastfeeding is a proven, natural, short term (six month) method of birth control.  This method of contraception is called the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM).

L = Lactational means breastfeeding
A = Amenorrhea means having no monthly period
M = Method

LAM is 98 – 99 % effective in preventing pregnancy, but only if you follow these 3 rules:

  1.  Your monthly periods have not returned
  2. Your baby is fully or nearly fully breastfed
    • fully breastfed means your baby gets all food from suckling at the breast
    • nearly fully breastfed means, in addition to breastfeeding, any vitamins, minerals, juice, water or other food is given infrequently or no more than one to two mouthfuls a day
    • to be fully breastfed or nearly fully breastfed, your baby should be breastfed at least every four hours and not have more than one six hour stretch between breastfeeding in 24 hours

3.  Your baby is under six months.

If you answer “NO” to any of these rules, begin another method of contraception.

To increase the effectiveness of LAM as a method of birth control:

  • breastfeed baby immediately after birth, ideally within the first 30 minutes
  • breastfeed frequently
  • avoid using bottles, pacifiers or other artificial nipples
  • avoid expressing breast milk since it may not be as effective at stopping ovulation compared to having baby feed at the breast

Other methods of birth control that do not affect breastfeeding include:

  • condoms, both male and female
  • spermicides like foam, gel, film, and sponge
  • diaphragm (must be refitted after pregnancy)
  • Intra-Uterine Device (IUD)
  • vasectomy
  • tubal ligation
  • Depo Provera

Speak to your health care provider for more information about your birth control options.

You can also chat with a Public Health Nurse at (416) 338-7600 or with a counsellor at our AIDS & Sexual Health InfoLine – Toll free: 1-800-668-2437  Local: 416-392-2437

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