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Should You Use Contraception if You Are Breastfeeding? Learn About Lactational Amenorrhea

lactational amenorrhea

Lactational amenorrhea is an accessible method of contraception for people, especially in settings where other forms of family planning are difficult or expensive to access. Its effectiveness was first observed in studies dating back to 1966 and has been confirmed in successive research up to the present day. 

Breastfeeding is an essential stage in the development of the human being. Not only does it contain the necessary nutrients according to the different stages of growth of the baby, but it also strengthens the bond between the newborn and the caregiver. Now, with all the physical and hormonal changes, many people wonder, should I take contraceptives during breastfeeding to prevent pregnancy?

Let's talk about fertility during breastfeeding!

Once the baby is born, the newborn care stage begins. During this period, milk becomes essential for the baby, as it is the baby's only food. During this phase, the body releases prolactin, the lactation hormone, which stimulates milk production.

These hormonal changes can delay ovulation, which means that it is common for menstruation to return months or even years after the baby is born. In short, without the release of eggs ready for fertilization, pregnancy cannot occur. This phenomenon is known as the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM).

Lactational amenorrhea (LAM)

The Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) is 98% effective. According to Planned Parenthood:  "Approximately 2 out of every 100 people who use breastfeeding for birth control become pregnant," so if you are breastfeeding and want to avoid a new pregnancy, LAM is a method that can work if you do it properly. 

In principle, it is necessary to emphasize that it only works during the first 6 months of the baby's life and, during that time, breastfeeding should be done exclusively, which means every four hours during the day and every 6 hours at night.

Be careful! Breastfeeding does not prevent pregnancy if you feed your baby other foods, so if your baby also drinks formula, LAM will not work as birth control.

Likewise, it does not work if you express milk with a breast pump. This method is only effective when the baby feeds directly from your breast. Remember that any change in your vaginal mucus or bleeding may indicate that your hormones are changing and you are becoming fertile again, so it is necessary to evaluate the use of a contraceptive method that is friendly to your breastfeeding.

Some factors that may affect the effectiveness of lactational amenorrhea in preventing a new pregnancy are:

  • Returning to the work routine. Healthline explains that one study showed that even if you exclusively breastfeed, people who returned to work were more likely to become pregnant compared to those who did not work.

  • The return of menstruation. If your period returns, you have a greater chance of getting pregnant. In fact, some people ovulate even before their first postpartum period. Each case is individual. 

I Want to Get Pregnant, Should I Stop Breastfeeding?

If you want to increase your chances of ovulating during lactation, you should make some changes. For example, abruptly interrupt breastfeeding increases the chances of ovulating. Keep in mind that some of these changes will not be well received by your newborn baby. .

Which Contraceptive Methods Do Not Affect Milk Supply?

Contraception while breastfeeding

You can take progesterone hormonal contraceptives and they will not harm you or your baby, nor will they cut off your milk supply. After delivery you can start using the injection, the implant and the intrauterine device.

You can also use a specific type of birth control pills, which are known as mini-pills and are composed of progestin. The contraceptives you should avoid during the first 3 weeks postpartum are those that have estrogen, such as combined birth control pills, the patch or the vaginal ring, because they can decrease milk production if you have difficulty breastfeeding. 

According to e-lactation: "There is poor quality evidence that estrogens may decrease breast milk production or the duration of lactation, especially if administered during the first few weeks postpartum and at doses equal to or greater than 30 micrograms (0.03 mg) daily."

In conclusion, the human body is complex and wonderful. The lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) allows all energy to be invested in the care and feeding of the newborn, rather than worrying about routine contraception. However, to prevent pregnancy during breastfeeding, it is necessary to be very careful and always have the necessary medical support.

Aya Contigo has reliable information for you to make your decisions on sexual and reproductive health issues, contact us!



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