When it comes to birth control after pregnancy, people usually think of condoms or birth control pills.
However, a new study from UC Davis Health points to an often-overlooked option: the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM).
This method is actually more effective than condoms or typical use of birth control pills, working at least 98% of the time.
LAM relies on the natural infertility period that comes with exclusive breastfeeding, during which a woman’s monthly periods are absent.
Despite its effectiveness, the study found that nearly half of the women surveyed didn’t know that just breastfeeding could significantly reduce their chance of getting pregnant again before their periods return.
Adrienne Hoyt-Austin, who led the study, said, “This study is important because there’s very limited information about using lactational amenorrhea as a planned birth control method in the U.S.
It’s crucial to educate new moms about all birth control options to prevent unplanned pregnancies.”
Misinformation About LAM’s Effectiveness
The study involved 760 American women who were pregnant for the first time. The participants, aged between 18 to 40, were mostly reached through social media ads.
After screening, 451 women were chosen to take the survey, for which they received a $20 gift card. They were asked about their understanding of LAM and other birth control methods.
The results were eye-opening:
- Only about half knew that breastfeeding could delay the return of their periods.
- Just 11.3% knew that they need to exclusively breastfeed to rely on LAM as a birth control method.
- A lot of them (47.3%) didn’t know that exclusive breastfeeding is essential to reduce pregnancy risk.
The participants also seemed to underestimate LAM, as most believed condoms (87.3%) and birth control pills (87.8%) were more effective, which is not the case.
Education and Counseling Needed
The study highlights the need for better education about post-pregnancy birth control options, including LAM. The researchers suggest that detailed counseling could help new parents make better-informed decisions.
For those who plan to rely on LAM, it’s important to know that exclusive breastfeeding is crucial for the method to work.
Hoyt-Austin adds, “Breastfeeding has multiple long-term benefits for both women and children. If more women knew about how effective LAM is, they might choose it and get the added benefits of breastfeeding.”
The bottom line is that while LAM might not be the best fit for everyone, it’s a highly effective and natural option that should be considered and understood.
With better awareness and education, more women can make an informed decision that benefits both them and their new babies.
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The research findings can be found in Breastfeeding Medicine.
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