Short answer: there’s a small possibility.
Long answer: It depends on the following factors I’m about to explain.
There is so much contradictory information surrounding fertility after birth that is not wonder many women are left confused as to where to turn to.
Let’s just get one thing straight: LAM method can work but only if you follow the criteria perfectly. In fact, if followed strictly it can be up to 98% effective. That does mean though that one day off track and you’ve increased your chances.
Wait, what is LAM and how does it work?
LAM is the abbreviation for…. It can be very effective for mums who have a hungry little munchkin who happily eats every three hours during the first few months, but for other women this is just not possible.
Why it might not be covering me
At my two month check up with my midwife, I mentioned some light spotting I’d been having for days – and it wasn’t the first time. She asked me some questions and then said to us: you should probably consider another form of contraception if you don’t want to get pregnant right away.
Which, to tell you truth I didn’t and don’t want to…just yet. My partner and I will probably sit down and talk about the age gap we would like between our children as my little girl is my firstborn, but until then, we’re orange.
Now I’m referring to colours, yes: allow me to explain. My midwife has a neat little system I find very useful and would like to pass on which basically marks the readiness of a family for another pregnancy.
For example: red would be absolutely not yet, orange would be prefer not but we’d roll with it in the unlikely case, and green well kinda explains itself.
BUT the crucial point to take away here is why?
- My daughter was sleeping more than 5 hours a night (on a lucky day!)
- She was sometimes fed pumped milk
- I was having signs of a postpartum period
Let’s dig a little deeper…
How does LAM work?
The LAM contraceptive method has transformed from an old wives tale to a recommended alternative to other types of conrtraception following childbirth.
It stands for two words cleverly put together: Lactational Amenorrhea. Amennorhea just means the absence of a woman’s period, and the lactational, well we get that part. That’s about breastfeeding.
So the two words put together mean: absence of a woman’s menstrual cycle while breastfeeding.
Now let’s get into the technicality. When the nipples are stimulated through breastfeeding, a hormone is sent out into the body shortly after. Not to be confused with oxytocin however, which is produces instantaneously upon suction.
No – this hormone is called Prolactin. This little clever hormone not only is released during feeding to produce milk supply – it is also in both men and women and regulates the reproduction and immune system.
Your prolactin levels will increase over the following 45 minutes of a feed and will stay that way as long as baby’s feeds are frequent enough. For the level of prolactin to remain high enough to be a effecive contraception method, there need to be frequent feeds – on average 8 feedings per 24 hours.
Here are the following conditions to meet using the LAM method:
- Baby MUST feed from the breast only
- Baby must be under 6 months of age
- Baby must feed no longer than 4 hours/day and 6 hours at night
But what about pumping?
Well, this depends on the amount of let-downs a mum has during pumping. We can say that the amount of hormones is greater when breastfeeding rather than pumping – due to the mother’s love for her baby, hence more oxytocin release.
AND the fact that baby tends to feed for longer periods of time – remember that baby will often stay longer on the breast for the affectionate side or sometimes be hungry or thirsty, thus producing more nipple stimulation.
IF you do want use this method while exclusively pumping or you know you’re going to be away from baby for x amount of time, try and pump the same amount of times that baby would feed in a day.
You can also try pumping near baby like I do when I need to pump (though I don’t use the LAM method) or if you’re away from her, look at a photo you might have to stimulate more let- downs.
What can affect the efficiency of LAM?
If you’re asking yourself the question whether thi method is for you, you should consider the following factors:
Does my baby frequently enough? This is a tricky one since breastfeeding can vary a lot in the beginning. If, for example you’re lucky to have your baby sleep a 6 hour night, two days in a row, your prolactin levels will have dropped.
If I’m mixing with formula or pumped breastmilk, am I making up for the loss of nipple stimulation by pumping more?
What if I haven’t had my period?
Although it is unlikely in most cases, some women ovulate even before their post partum period, as early as four weeks after birth.
This means that yes, it’s possible to get pregnant without the first post partum period. It’s what makes LAM a little unsure as a long term contraceptive method.
However, in the same way it is also possible to have a postpartum period without ovulating.
How do I know whether it’s for us?
If you want to try this method and for it to work effectively, you must follow strictly the guidelines. Just as you would for any contraceptive method.
If you’re feeling unsure or hesitant, have a think and a good chat with your partner about the possible outcome of a back to back pregnancy.
What are the signs of pregnancy while breastfeeding?
The answer is more simple than you think: they are pretty much the same symptoms of a normal pregnancy (by normal I mean without lactation at the same time)
You might experience some of the following:
- Sore or sensitive nipples. If you’ve checked that it definetly can’t be caused by any infection or poor latch-on, chances are it could be a sign you’re pregnant.
- Nausea – if you’re feeling a bit off for a few days a row and you’re sure it wasn’t the curry you made, again this could be a sign.
- Fatigue. Just as in a pregnancy without breastfeeding, you could feel more than often worn out and needing that extra nap. Make sure it’s not breastfeeding in intself though, which can tire mums out.
- Mood swings. If you’ve been feeling unusually cranky and you’re sure it’s not the lack of sleep with a newborn, you might want to consider taking a pregnancy test.
You may also not feel any of the following, or confuse them for something else, so listen to your body carefully if you have any doubts. Your body knows best!
I hope this article has been useful to any new mums asking themselves the question I did about the LAM method. Ladies, what are your thoughts, any experiences you’d like to share?
What do you think of the LAM method after reading this? Leave a comment below!