Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Mythbuster: Breastfeeding Will Keep you from Getting Pregnant

Under Inspection

Breastfeeding is a means of birth control


In case you have never heard the phrase "you can't get pregnant if you're breastfeeding," now you have. And usually you hear someone respond to that statement by saying "Oh, so... I'll be expecting your next announcement in about a month." Here in America, it is common practice to put women on some form of birth control before they are cleared by their doctors to resume intercourse (usually at the 6 week checkup after birth). On the other hand, many medical organizations such as the World Health Organization teach the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) as a viable and reliable method of family planning. If you want a full description, read the link, otherwise, the synopsis is that full breastfeeding day and night with no bottles, formula, or solids has a 99+ success rate in preventing ovulation (and therefore pregnancy) as long as the mother's periods have not returned AND her baby is less than 6 months old. Please don't take sentence as a complete guide to LAM... :-)

Factual Experience:

Disingenuous, I know, given how much success we have at not getting pregnant on our own anyway. However, I was really interested to see what effects breastfeeding would have on the return of my "fertility," since I now have several years experience keeping track of it! Obviously (I hope), we didn't judge the results based on lack of positive pregnancy tests. Rather, I charted my fertility signs to see if I was ovulating or not. I don't even own a bottle, and while Hannah did end up taking a pacifier and not sleeping skin to skin with me, I got my 6 months and more. I was able to successfully identify my first ovulation and predict my first post-partum period 10 months after she was born. Yeah charting!

Conclusion that breastfeeding can keep you from getting pregnant according to the medically established LAM guidelines (and maybe longer): True!

<You may mentally insert a picture of a negative pregnancy test, but I never took one, because I never had reason to believe I might be pregnant.>