please note: I am not a physician, lactation consultant or trained medical professional. I am simple sharing a method that has worked for us in the past. For more information, please consult a professional.
If you've read this blog for any length of time, you probably know how I feel about birth control. If not, take a second and read that post. And then, if you're wondering what the other options are, read this post.
Today I want to share another form of birth control. This one is a bit more specific to circumstance, but it is another method none the less. And especially since a lot of my readers are mommas or soon to be mommas. I thought sharing this would be beneficial for a lot of ladies.
Also, it helps to just know how the female body works. Don't know where to start? I recommend this book. Ladies, God made you and He made you well. Get to know how your body works and you'll be amazed at His work!
We stopped using hormonal birth control in 2008. And we'll never use it again. But, as with almost all obstetricians and midwives, soon after the birth of both of my sons, the inevitable question came up: "will you be needing birth control?" My answer is, of course, no.
And no, we're not looking to have Irish twins around here (although I'm not entirely opposed to that).
No, we used LAM: Lactation Amenorrhea Method.
In the simplest terms, LAM is when you do not ovulate for the first 6 months of your baby's life and therefore, cannot get pregnant. You have to ovulate in order to get pregnant.
Can I just stop and sing my praise for breastfeeding again? Because that's what we're getting ready to talk about here. It's an amazing thing and I pray that every single mother who is able, will work as hard as they possibly can to do it for their children. But mommas, it's also an amazing gift to you! Not only is it the most incredible bonding experience with your baby, that you will get no other way, and not only does it burn 500 calories a day, but it works as a natural birth control! It's as if God designed it that way! (really though, He did).
But back to what I was saying.
There are a few requirements in order for this method to work correctly:
1. You must be exclusively breastfeeding baby either fully or nearly fully. This method will only work so long as your baby is breastfeeding, with little to no use of a pacifier and solid foods have not been introduced. You will start ovulating as soon as your body recognizes that baby is not breastfeeding fully. And that happens almost immediately, as it did for me when Isaac began solids at 5 months.
2. Baby must be under 6 months of age. It's crazy how accurate this is, but your cycle kicks in and you begin to ovulate when baby hits 6 months. With Eli, for me, it was almost to the day.
3. This method won't work if for some reason you've already started your period. This method needs to be decided upon before birth. You cannot decide to use it later on down the line.
What has it looked like for us? With Isaac, we introduced solids at 5 months old. With Eli, I was in much less of a hurry and this was one major reason. That boy is healthy weight-wise and gets plenty of calories from just my milk, so I was not worried at all in waiting. We did give him avocado at 5 months, but he didn't take to it so we held off. And in doing so, also held off on ovulation.
Most literature on the topic will tell you that your baby needs to be breastfeeding every 4 or less hours during the day and 6 or less hours at night for this method to work. That is text book, but not entirely true for everyone. We use the Babywise sleep training method and so by 10 weeks old, Eli was sleeping 8-9 hours at night. His day feedings were (and still are) exactly 4 hours apart, same exact time every single day. And yet, LAM still worked for us. I did, however, pay attention to my body and noticed that each month I was not ovulating. And I think that is because the criteria is "fully or nearly fully breastfeeding." The most important thing is to be excusively breastfeeding, with almost no supplements or pacifier. We used neither.
What about pumping and bottle feeding? Eli takes a bottle (thank goodness, because Isaac did not!). But I rarely pump. However, when he does bottle feed, if at all possible, I pump during that feeding so my milk supply doesn't take that as a sign that he's dropped a feeding. I also did it during the first 6 months so I wouldn't start ovulating! The thing is, you should just always be aware of your milk supply and your body. And that is why I can't say enough about Babywise and feeding/sleep schedules. My body knows exactly when Eli will eat every single day and so I'm never low on milk. If I need more, in order to pump for later, then I just pump what is left after each feeding.
And I realize this is quickly turning into a post about breastfeeding. If you have any questions about it, about how we do things, please email me. I'm happy to answer questions about anything!
Back to LAM. It's simple. It's wonderful and it's built in. The only other thing I would say about it is, you still need to be aware of your body. Pay attention to the signals it gives off. If you meet the 3 criteria above, you don't need to chart anything because this method of birth control has a failure rate of less than 2% (and that's dang good people). If you just want to be sure or if you're partially breastfeeding, chart. But either way, always look for signs of impending ovulation.
And there you have it. A form of natural birth control, that simply requires you do what is natural: breastfeed your newborn!
All of the information I've shared with you is from Taking Charge of Your Fertility. Whether you are pregnant, trying to get pregnant, not even interested in being pregnant, just had a baby, are in between kids or are reaching menopause, know your body! And like I said, this book is a great resource.