Safe Breastfeeding While on Birth Control
The chances of getting pregnant while breastfeeding your child will be very low. This is only true if you're breastfeeding exclusively, and your baby without any supplements or baby food. Hence post the first six weeks of the baby’s arrival, it is recommended to do a routine check-up and ask your doctor to prescribe contraceptives. While oral contraceptives are a largely popular form of birth control but contain both progestin and estrogen, estrogen is known to reduce the milk supply. So, in order to safely breastfeed your child while on birth control, here are a few key points you must keep in mind.
Contraception for Breastfeeding Women
There are various contraceptive options available specifically for breastfeeding women. Some contraceptives are prescribed to new mothers, immediately after the delivery. For instance, arm implants, contraceptive injections, intrauterine devices (IUDs) and oral pills with only progestin. However, the most effective ones are arm implants or IUDs compared to other contraception methods.
Intrauterine Devices (IUDs)
The Intrauterine Devices are over 99% and considered the most efficient birth control methods available. These prescribed contraceptives are available in both hormonal as well as non-hormonal types. Your consulting doctor will prescribe you hormonal IUDs which only contain progestin. The hormone progesterone makes your cervical mucus thicker to prevent the sperm from reaching the uterus.
Doctors prescribe IUDs at least three-six weeks post your delivery until your bleeding stops. In case the IUDs are placed soon after the delivery, chances of dislodging and getting infections are high. However, there are side effects in the form of irregular bleeding, cramping and spotting between periods, in the first few months.
Popularly known as the “The Mini-Pill”, is another contraceptive method which contains only progestin, works well amongst breastfeeding women, compared to oral contraceptives (estrogen and progestin). The progestin hormone is present in the breast milk but has no side effects on the baby. Research also shows that the hormone helps women in producing good quality and quantity of milk while on these hormone pills.
According to What To Expect, “Nursing moms may want to consider one of the following hormonal contraceptives. They're estrogen-free, so your milk supply won't dwindle, but they share a downside: There's a higher chance of spotting than with the combined methods because progesterone alone doesn't provide the same level of cycle control.”
The contraceptive shots or the widely known Depo-Provera works as short-term contraception which is effective to up to three months. This highly effective birth control shot can be taken right after your delivery with no complications. While this method is effective, it is not the ideal option if you are looking conceive quickly. It takes about a year or none months before your period cycle returns to normal. If you’re not in a hurry, then you can take four shots in a year to stay completely protected.
The contraception technique of implanting a progestin infused flexible rod device in your upper arm reduces the chances of getting pregnant to up to 99 % for a period of three years. Compared to the shots, the implant device can be removed at any point before trying to conceive and doesn’t require time for your periods to return to normalcy. The side effects include irregular or heavy bleeding in the year after implant insertion and a slightly higher risk of having an ectopic pregnancy if you conceive. However, the procedure involves no complications while insertion or removal.
The use of condoms as contraception is widely popular and acts in blocking the sperm from entering the uterus to fertilize the eggs. This highly effective method (98%) can be used once you start having sexual intercourse post the baby. Like the other contraceptive methods, this does not contain any hormones which could affect milk supply or does not cause any side effects. With many options available in the market, condoms work as not just contraceptives but give protection against STIs as well. In order for this method to be effective, it is recommended to use a condom from the beginning to the end. But with chances of tearing or slipping off, it is not highly recommended as the go-to contraception method.
Lastly, remember to always check the type of contraception you have been prescribed and steer clear of any form of estrogens. Always prefer to keep the dosage low and keep a check for any side effects. If your baby’s weight fluctuates by either slowing or stopping, consult a doctor and stop using birth control. This will help boost your breast milk supply. Keep a contraception plan ready while you’re pregnant to avoid any mishaps post-delivery as your fertility may return anytime. Talk to your doctor at every stage to be well informed and take the necessary steps at the right time, without affecting your baby’s health.