Using breastfeeding as a form of contraception is known as the “Lactational Amenorrhea Method” or LAM.
There are three criteria that you need to meet in order for breastfeeding to be a reliable contraceptive option for you.
- You’re not providing your child with any supplementary food in addition to breastmilk
- Your child is under 6 months old (this is the age at which supplementary food is usually introduced)
- You haven’t menstruated since giving birth (this is defined as any bleeding that happens on 2 consecutive days that happens 2 months after giving birth)
If you are nursing 4 hours a day and 6 hours a night, it is likely that you will meet the criteria above, and your body will not have returned to ovulating. If your body doesn’t ovulate, you can’t conceive. These criteria can be easily thrown off though, by things such as illness, your baby’s sleep cycle, or even stress.
It’s also important to know that fertility can return with 3 weeks of giving birth. Because your body can ovulate before it menstruates this means that you could be fertile before you realise it. So if you’re concerned about an unexpected pregnancy after giving birth it’s a good idea to use an additional method of contraception in addition to breastfeeding.