After pregnancy, you start to get intimate with your partner once again. Amidst what your friends and family are telling you, you wonder if there’s truth to what they’re saying about breastfeeding and how it affects pregnancy.
Can breastfeeding prevent pregnancy?
Basically, breastfeeding delays ovulation for at least 6 months.
To allow the mother to release enough prolactin, the progesterone and estrogen levels are decreased. Prolactin, as you know, is responsible for milk production. If we take the word apart, we have pro- which means “for” and lacto, meaning “milk”. If breastfeeding is maintained, so is the amount of prolactin. This, as a result, inhibits ovulation temporarily.
This whole process is the foundation of the natural contraception called lactational amenorrhea method or LAM.
What is it?
Lactational amenorrhea is the type of amenorrhea due to lactation. It is categorized under secondary amenorrhea, which is defined as the type that occurs for 3 months or more after having normal menstruation cycles.
It is commonly found in women who are pregnant, menopausal, using birth control, or breastfeeding. Other causes could be stress, weight loss, too much exercise, PCOS, malnutrition, certain illnesses, etc.
Primary amenorrhea, on the other hand, is characterized as the absence of menstruation until 14 to 15 years of age. This is commonly due to defects in the reproductive organs or central nervous system.
Lactational amenorrhea as contraception
Lactational amenorrhea can be used as a method of contraception. However, there are guidelines that must be followed.
First, it will only most likely work if you’ve started while your baby is still under 6 months. After that, expect your period to return anytime. But as long as it doesn’t, LAM can still be utilised.
Second, you can only use this method if you’ve never had a period after giving birth. You will experience slight bleeding up to 10 days to 6 weeks after delivery. So make sure you don’t mistake it for menstruation. You can identify postpartum vaginal bleeding if it’s bright red. There will also be some spotting. Over time, it will be brighter in color.
And third, you must breastfeed your baby exclusively. It has been found out that the effectiveness of this method is decreased if mothers use supplements to breast milk. Feed your baby at least every 4 hours during the day and every 6 hours at night.
What are its advantages?
If you don’t want to have another baby right away, LAM is the best method you use. Aside from having no cost, it also eliminates the possibility of experiencing side effects and complications that you can get from unnatural methods of birth control. This is a very important point to take into account considering you are still breastfeeding your baby. It’s also very easy to do and it doesn’t hinder lovemaking with your partner.
What are its disadvantages?
The first obvious disadvantage is, you can only rely on it 6 months after giving birth. For mothers who need to supplement breast milk, this method may not work as expected.
So to answer your question, yes, you can certainly get pregnant while breastfeeding. It is very unlikely but the possibility is still there. So make sure you use a reliable birth control method if you don’t want to conceive yet.