Did you know that breastfeeding is an effective method of birth control? Wait! Before you get too excited, there are some pros and cons to consider before you make the decision to see if using breastfeeding as a form of contraceptive is a good choice for you.
What is Breastfeeding as Birth Control?
Using breastfeeding as birth control is known in the medical field as Lactational Amenorrhea and is considered to be the phase of natural infertility. This phase and duration can depend on numerous factors and can be very effective as a method of contraception. The effectiveness rate is similar to the effectiveness of reversible methods of fertility regulation such as IUDs or pills. Using breastfeeding as birth control has been cited as being an effective method for up to six months after the birth of the baby.
How Effective is it, Really?
Up to 98%! For the effectiveness to be this high, the mother must be exclusively nursing her baby for the first six months postpartum. The baby must also be fed (at a minimum) of every four hours during the day and every 6 hours during the night. Once the mothers period returns, she must seek out a different form of birth control.
This Sounds Great, so What's the Catch?
Although this method might sound like a great choice to some mothers (hey, it's free, simple, and convenient while offering ultimate nutrition for your baby), there can be some downsides. For example, Lactational Amenorrhea will not protect against STI's (sexually transmitted infections). Also, some mommies find it hard to stick to the regulated feedings schedule of 4 hours during the day and 6 hours at night. It is also only a short-term method of birth control. After six months, whether a period is started or not, it is recommended that a different form of birth control is used. As with any form of birth control, nothing is 100% effective. Please make sure you are talking with your OB and discussing all your options before deciding if this method is right for you.
"Breastfeeding and Human Lactation Enhanced Fifth Edition" by Karen Wambach and Jan Riordan, 2016.
Association of Reproductive Health Professionals: http://www.arhp.org/Publications-and-Resources/Patient-Resources/Fact-Sheets/Breastfeeding