Exclusive breastfeeding (not using any other methods of feeding your baby) can be an effective contraceptive methods for the first 6 months of your baby’s life.
How does LAM work?
The hormone prolactin, which is produced towards the end of pregnancy, stimulates the the production of breast milk. It also effects the ovaries, preventing the release of an egg (ovulation). Each time the baby feeds at the breast, it stimulates the secretion of prolactin. The level falls again after 3-4 hours. Provided the baby feeds frequently the prolactin level remains high, the milk supply is maintained and ovulation is suppressed (this includes frequent feeding overnight).
How effective is LAM?
LAM is up to 98% effective if:
- The baby is less than 6 months old
- The mother is exclusively (or almost exclusively) breastfeeding day and night
- Her periods have not returned
CAUTION: Bleeding is a warning sign of fertility, but some women will ovulate before their first period, so it is possible to go straight from one pregnancy to another without having a period.
What are the advantages of LAM?
- It is safe for woman and baby
- There are no physical side effects
What are the disadvantages of LAM?
- A number of factors can influence how effective LAM works including less frequent feeding (especially at night), baby sleeping through the night, introducing any other feeds (e.g. formula), using a dummy as a comforter, expressing milk, anxiety and stress or illness in mother or baby, age of the baby (it is not reliable after 6 months).