Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) as a Natural Birth Control Approach

Nov 28, 2023 | Breastfeeding

Mother using Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) as a natural birth control

The Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) is a natural form of birth control that relies on the temporary infertility that often accompanies exclusive breastfeeding in the postpartum period. LAM is a culturally and environmentally friendly approach, providing a safe and effective contraceptive option for women in resource-constrained settings. This paper explores the principles, effectiveness, advantages, and limitations of LAM as a method of birth control, supported by relevant research and citations.

Principles of Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM)

LAM operates on three key principles:

  1. Exclusive Breastfeeding: LAM requires that a mother exclusively breastfeeds her infant, which means feeding at the breast without any supplements or artificial feeding methods.
  2. Amenorrhea: During the early postpartum months, many women experience lactational amenorrhea, which is the temporary cessation of menstruation due to breastfeeding’s hormonal effects.
  3. Time Frame: LAM’s effectiveness is highest within the first six months after childbirth, during which menstruation typically remains suppressed if exclusive breastfeeding criteria are met.

Effectiveness of LAM as a Natural Birth Control Method

LAM is considered highly effective when practiced correctly. Research indicates that its perfect-use efficacy is approximately 98% during the first six months postpartum. However, real-world effectiveness may be lower due to factors such as inconsistent breastfeeding patterns and introduction of supplemental feeding.

Advantages of LAM

  1. Non-Invasive: LAM does not require the use of hormonal contraceptives or intrauterine devices, making it a non-invasive option with minimal side effects.
  2. Cost-Effective: It is a low-cost method, accessible to women in various socioeconomic settings.
  3. Environmental Friendliness: LAM does not produce waste or require the manufacturing of contraceptives, contributing to environmental sustainability.
  4. Postpartum Health Benefits: Breastfeeding offers several health benefits for both the mother and infant, making LAM a mutually advantageous choice.

Limitations of LAM

  1. Limited Time Frame: LAM’s effectiveness diminishes after six months or when the infant starts supplementary feeding, necessitating a transition to another contraceptive method.
  2. Cultural and Societal Factors: LAM may not be culturally accepted or feasible in all societies. Additionally, the pressure to resume sexual activity after childbirth can impact its correct practice.
  3. Potential for Error: Users must adhere strictly to the criteria of exclusive breastfeeding around the clock, and any deviations can reduce its effectiveness.

    The Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) is a natural and effective birth control approach during the postpartum period when practiced correctly. Its principles are grounded in the biological interactions between breastfeeding and menstruation, providing women with a non-invasive, cost-effective, and environmentally friendly contraceptive option.

    However, LAM’s limitations, including a limited time frame and cultural factors, should be acknowledged. Overall, LAM is a valuable choice for women seeking a safe and natural birth control method in the early months following childbirth.

    References:
    Labbok, M. H. (2001). Lactational amenorrhea method for family planning. The European Journal of Contraception & Reproductive Health Care, 6(2), 105-110.
    World Health Organization. (1997). Contraceptive efficacy of lactational amenorrhea. The Lancet, 349(9060), 1519-1520

    Sarah Early - MSN, APRN-FNP-C, IBCLC

    Sarah Early, MSN, APRN, FNP-C, IBCLC, is a clinically trained Integrative and Functional Health Family Nurse Practitioner who specializes in women's health and is the owner of Peony Women's Integrative Health and Lactation Room. She graduated with a Master's in Nursing and Family Nurse Practitioner with high distinction and is a member of the Sigma Theta Tau International Honor Society of Nursing. Sarah has been a practicing International Board Certified Lactation Consultant (IBCLC) since 2011 and opened Lactation Room in 2014. Lactation Room specializes in supporting parent/baby dyads who are struggling with infant oral dysfunction, feeding difficulties, and tongue-and-lip ties. They earned the prestigious IBCLE Care Award from the International Board of Lactation Consultant Examiners® (IBLCE®) and International Lactation Consultant Association® (ILCA®) have recognized Lactation Room for excellence in lactation care. She is a member of ILCA, USLCA, MBC, AANP, IATP, and MBC.