Lactational amenorrhea method

What is Lactational Amenorrhea Method?

Lactational Amenorrhea Method is a method of contraception. Lactational means breastfeeding and amenorrhea means having no monthly period.

How does it work?

Lactational Amenorrhea Method takes advantage of the normal processes that occur in a woman's body after childbirth and when she breastfeeds her baby. The baby's suckling prevents the release of certain hormones needed for ovulation. The breastfeeding woman, then, does not ovulate and cannot become pregnant.

Who can use it?

Breastfeeding can be used as a method of contraception only if the mother meets all the following requirements:

  • her baby is under six months old;
  • her monthly periods have not returned;
  • her baby is fully or nearly fully breastfed,* and;
  • her baby is breastfeeding at least every four hours during the day and at least every six hours at night.
  • fully breastfed means the baby gets all food from the breast. * Nearly fully breastfed means, in addition to breastfeeding, vitamins, minerals, juice, water or other foods are given to the baby infrequently (no more than one or two mouthfuls a day.)

Note: To be fully breastfed or nearly fully breastfed, the baby should go no more than 4 hours between breastfeedings during the day. At night, the baby should go no more than six hours between breastfeedings.

If you answer "NO"

If you answer "NO" to any of the above statements, begin using another method of contraception. Birth control pills can decrease your milk supply. It is recommended that you wait until your baby is six weeks old before starting them. You can discuss other birth control options with your doctor or public health nurse. Keep breastfeeding as long as you can for Health and your baby's health. Adapted and reprinted with the permission of the Toronto Public Health.

Remember

Because a woman can only rely on this method for up to six months, it is important to plan ahead and to have an alternate method available for use when Lactional Amenorrhea Method is no longer reliable (i.e. when her periods return, when the baby begins taking solid foods and /or supplements, or when the baby reaches six months of age.).