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revised Monday January 18 2016
healthy sexuality
Birth Control Methods

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LAM (Lactation Amenorrhea Method)

What is LAM?

The Lactation Amenorrhea Method is a natural, short term birth control method in which a woman relies on exclusive breastfeeding after birth to prevent pregnancy.

L = Lactational means breastfeeding
A = Amenorrhea means having no monthly period
M = Method

How does LAM work?

When a baby suckles frequently at the breast, hormones are released that interrupts a women’s normal ovulation cycle by stopping the ovaries from releasing an egg. This prevents mom from becoming pregnant. As the baby grows and starts to eat other foods (around six months of age), the time suckling at the breast decreases. When this happens the woman’s body begins to return to its regular cycling and ovulation and menstrual periods.


Practising LAM

Breastfeeding can be used as a method of contraception by following these four conditions:

  1. Your baby is less than 6 months old
  2. Your monthly periods have not returned
  3. Your baby is fully or nearly fully breastfed*
  4. Your baby should be breastfed at least every 4 hours and not have more than one 6 hour stretch between breastfeeding in 24 hrs.
* “Fully breastfed” means your baby gets all food from suckling at the breast.
“Nearly fully breastfed” means that in addition to breastfeeding, vitamins, minerals, juice, water or any other foods are given infrequently (no more than 1 or 2 mouthfuls a day)
Note: Expressing breast milk via hand or pump is not a substitute for breastfeeding and will not be effective in preventing pregnancy.

If you answer “YES” to all of the four conditions LAM, may be a good method for you to use.

If you answer “No” to any of these statements, begin another method of contraception. Keep breastfeeding as often as you can for you and your baby’s health. Taking birth control pills containing estrogen can reduce your milk supply.


Effectiveness

  • When all of the above conditions exist, LAM provides 98% protection from pregnancy in the first six months.
  • Note: A woman is encouraged to begin using another method of birth control when any of the four conditions changes, as the chance of pregnancy is increased.

Advantages & Disadvantages

Advantages

Disadvantages

  • No side effects
  • No cost involved—free
  • No devices, no medications, no prescriptions or office visits
  • Acceptable for couples who have religious concerns related to contraception
  • Can use this method only for the first six months after birth or until the first menstrual period (within the first 6 months after birth)
  • If one condition is not met it is no longer effective
  • LAM does not protect against sexually transmitted infections

If you want to learn more, download the pamphlet Breastfeeding and Contraception (Birth Control) (PDF file, 86KB)

Reference: Hatcher, R. A, Trussell. J., et al. (2011). Contraceptive Technology (20th ed.). New York: Ardent Media, Inc.

For further information on LAM and other methods of birth control call:

Region of Peel - Public Health
905-799-7700
Monday to Friday 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
to speak with a Public Health Nurse

Caledon residents call free of charge at 905-584-2216

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Revised: Monday January 18 2016

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