Breastfeeding as a method of contraception

Most women who recently delivered a baby use breastfeeding as a method of birth control to uphold a gap between baby’s births. Efficiency is an important concern while considering a birth control method. Today, we are discussing on how effective is breastfeeding as a birth control method.

How does breastfeeding work to prevent pregnancy?

Breastfeeding naturally suppresses the hormones that are necessary for ovulation (release of an egg from the ovary), in turn, prevents conception. Baby’s continuous sucking can stimulate the hormones that suppress the process of ovulation. If there is no egg production in the body, then there is no pregnancy. Hence, breastfeeding is a good form of birth control. Regular and frequent breastfeeding as a natural method of contraception is termed as lactational amenorrhea method (LAM). LAM is highly effective i.e. 98%effective only if women follow or meet the following criteria:

  • The baby must be less than 6 months old
  • Must exclusively breastfeed the baby during the day and night (this means breast milk should not substitute with other foods)
  • Must not have periods

For whom breastfeeding is not a proper contraception method?

  • When the baby turns 6 months, breastfeeding is not an ideal option to prevent pregnancy.
  • Also, keep in mind that LAM cannot be used when you are taking antidepressants. Antidepressants make your baby feel drowsy and sleepy, which does not allow you to feed often. This reduces the effectiveness of breastfeeding as a form of birth control. Your doctor can help to suggest you alternate methods to make breastfeeding effective as a contraceptive method.
  • If the baby stopped breastfeeding and started taking solid foods along with breast milk, then LAM is no longer effective even if your periods still haven’t returned. You could be fertile and can get pregnant again.

Benefits of using breastfeeding as birth control:

Benefits for mothers:

  • Does not affect a woman’s natural hormone balance
  • Safe, simple, and convenient
  • Requires no medical supervision or prescription
  • Reduces bleeding after delivery
  • Prevents pregnancy naturally after delivery and its effectiveness lasts up to 6 months

Benefits for baby:

  • Provides the best nutrition
  • Improves the bonding between mother and child
  • Baby feels safe and secure around the arms while breastfeeding
  • Antibodies from breast milk protects the baby from development of allergies and certain infections
  • Decreases the potential risk of any infections from other foods

Women can start breastfeeding shortly after delivering a baby. If there are any issues with breastfeeding, seek immediate help from a midwife or a lactation expert so that lactation is not sporadic and disturbed. It is always highly recommended to discussing with a doctor before you consider breastfeeding as a form of birth control. A doctor can suggest you some tips to make breastfeeding effective as birth control.

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