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Exclusive Breastfeeding/LAM

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Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM):
Answers to Your Questions

What is LAM?
Is LAM effective?
How does it work?
How do I use LAM as a contraceptive method?
What are the advantages and disadvantages of LAM?
Is LAM the right method for me?
The material provided here is meant to give general information about LAM and does not replace the need to talk to a health care provider if you would like to use LAM as a contraceptive method.

What is LAM?

By feeding a new baby only with breast milk, a new mother can prevent pregnancy for up to six months if her period has not returned. When used as a family planning method, this exclusive breastfeeding is called the lactational amenorrhea method, or LAM.

Is LAM effective?

For as long as your baby is exclusively breastfeeding and your period has not returned, LAM is very effective when it is used correctly. LAM is less effective after the baby is six months old, after the baby is given other foods, or after your period has returned.

How does LAM work?

Exclusive breastfeeding stops the egg from leaving the ovary each month. The baby does not need any foods other than breast milk until he or she is six months old as long as (1) the baby is growing well and gaining weight and (2) you are eating a balanced diet and resting in order to have a good milk supply.

NOTE: Breastfeeding does not provide protection against HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Aside from abstinence, latex condoms offer the best protection against STIs.


How do I use LAM as a contraceptive method?

As with any other method, you should talk to your doctor or a family planning counselor at a local clinic or hospital before using LAM as a contraceptive method. The following instructions are provided to help you decide whether LAM may be right for you.

To use LAM as a contraceptive method:

  • Breastfeed your baby on demand (at least 6 - 10 times a day, including at least once each night) on both breasts.
  • Make sure no more than six hours elapse between any two breastfeedings.
  • Be prepared to choose another contraceptive method when your menstrual period returns or when the baby begins to have food or drink other than breast milk. When the baby is no longer feeding exclusively on breast milk, breastfeeding is less effective and you may be able to get pregnant--even before you have your first menstrual period after delivery.
  • Talk to your doctor or a counselor at your local health facility if:
    • You are not happy with the method.
    • You want to start using another family planning method.
    • You want information about or want to start using another family planning method.
    • You think there is any chance you may have been exposed to HIV infection or any other sexually transmitted infections.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of LAM

Advantages:

  • Breast milk is the best food for the baby. It can help protect the baby from getting sick.
  • No medication or supplies are needed.
  • You can discontinue LAM on your own at any time.
  • LAM is not linked to sexual intercourse.

Disadvantages:

  • LAM does not provide protection against HIV infection and other sexually transmitted infections.
  • HIV and sexually transmitted infections may be transmitted to the baby through breast milk.
  • Some women may develop soreness or infections in their nipples or breasts.
  • LAM can take up a lot of your time. You must be willing to breastfeed every time the baby is hungry--both day and night.
  • At times, it may be inconvenient or difficult to breastfeed your baby (e.g., in the workplace).

Is LAM the right method for me?

There are a number of factors that you should consider before deciding whether LAM is right for you. These questions can help you determine whether LAM might be an effective contraceptive method for you.


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