A little over a month ago, I wrote a post about using breastfeeding as birth control. I got a lot of comments. Many people were confused, some had heard a different comments from their doctors, and others shared experiences where this method of birth control didn’t work.
So, I want to use this post to clarify…for most women,bBreastfeeding provides a natural delay in women’s return to fertility.
The biggest effect of breastfeeding on menstrual cycles is seen in women who practice what is known as ecological breastfeeding. These are the seven requirements of ecological breastfeeding are:
- Exclusive breastfeeding (no other liquid or solid from any other source enters the infant’s mouth) for the first six months of life.
- Comfort your baby at the breast.
- Don’t use bottles and pacifiers.
- Share sleep with your baby for night feedings.
- Share sleep with your baby for daily nap feedings.
- Nurse frequently day and night and avoid schedules.
- Avoid any practice that restricts nursing or separates you from your baby.
In order to achieve ecological breastfeeding, you have to meet ALL of these requirements. Not just one. Not just two. But ALL of them. Mothers who breastfeed but don’t do so exclusively (or don’t follow all the recommendations of ecological breastfeeding) may have delay in the return of their cycles, but usually not for as long of a period of time as mothers who ecologically breastfeed.
Researchers at Georgetown University developed the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) of birth control to quantify exactly under what circumstances breastfeeding is sufficient birth control. As long as the three conditions of LAM are in place, the chances of pregnancy are less than two percent, making it a more reliable birth-spacing method than a condom or a diaphragm. The conditions for the effective use of LAM are:
- Baby is less than six months old.
- The mother’s period has not yet returned.
- Baby is exclusively breastfed (with no pacifiers, supplemental bottles, or solid foods) and nurses on demand both day and night.
Did you doctor tell you breastfeeding isn’t an effective form of birth control? I would say it’s probably because most doctors don’t teach ecological breastfeeding. Did you get pregnant while breastfeeding? It was probably because you didn’t meet all of the conditions mentioned above.
Please keep in mind that timing for the return to fertility varies greatly from woman to woman and depends upon baby’s nursing pattern and how sensitive mom’s body is to the hormones involved in lactation.
And I just had to share this most recent picture of Kolt and I…still breastfeeding at 17 months!
There is just nothing quite like it.
This post was written as part of the weekly Breastfeeding Blog Hop, hosted by My Life with Levi, Slacker Mom, and ME! Want to join in? Read the rules here and link up below! Next week’s topic: What I Wish I Would Have Known.