Breastfeeding as Birth Control

While this may be common knowledge among those who have beautiful milk-filled breasts, I was surprised recently when breastfeeding was mentioned in one of my workshops as a method of birth control.  After going to the trusty internet, I was amazed at what I found – for 6 months after birth, breastfeeding will be almost as effective as the pill at preventing pregnancy.

Breastfeeding.com has the whole story, but here are the basics:

Image thanks to Wikimedia

The Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM)

This can be used when your baby is less than 6 months old, as long as your period hasn’t returned, and only if you are regularly breastfeeding and not supplementing with any formula.

The old joke, of course, is that the baby IS the birth control, since the new mom will be too tired for sex.  But the LAM really works, so ask your doctor about it!

Also, I would be a bad HIV educator if I didn’t remind you that HIV can be transmitted through breast milk, so make sure you keep that in mind when breastfeeding!

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About Craig VanKempen

Craig VanKempen

Craig VanKempen, LLMSW/MPH, is a sex educator and therapist practicing in the Detroit/Ann Arbor area. His professional interests include HIV, polyamory, compulsive sexual behavior, religion and sexuality, and GLBT issues.

  • Filledegriot

    The thing about breastfeeding as birth control is, it assumes that one’s diet is not overcompensating for the calories excreted through the breast milk. So it works WELL in less developed economies where people are barely getting adequate calories, but less well is more developed economie where calories are cheap and available. Many women consume enough calories to breast feed without depleting their excess fat and thus can still get pregnant. The concept requires a certain degree of deprivation. I would not count on it.