You may have heard that “if you’re breastfeeding, you cannot get pregnant.” This is only partly true. It’s true that breastfeeding reduces your chances of getting pregnant, but there are certain conditions – you have to exclusively breastfeed your baby (every four hours during the day and six hours at night) and give no supplements for your baby. Also, this option works only for six months after delivery, that too if your periods haven’t returned.
Several other reliable birth control options are available for breastfeeding moms, that are safe and effective. Here, in this post, you can find all that you need to know about birth control methods and effects on breastfeeding mothers.
Let’s get started.
Stay Away from Options that contain Estrogen
Studies state that contraceptives that contain the hormone Estrogen can lower the milk production, even for those who have been breastfeeding for a long time and their milk supply is well established. Though not all breastfeeding moms experience a dip in their milk supply, a clear majority do. So, it’s better to avoid contraceptives that contain Estrogen.
Some popular birth control options that contain Estrogen include
Combination pill (a combination of Estrogen and Progesterone)
Birth Control Patch
That said, there are plenty of options that help in preventing pregnancy as well as offer protection against STIs that offer safe birth control while breastfeeding. Let’s take a closer look at the options available.
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are a reversible contraception method that is long lasting. There are two popular types of IUDs
Hormonal – It releases the hormone progestin, which thickens the cervical mucus, thereby preventing the sperm from reaching the uterus.
Non-hormonal – It uses copper to prevent the sperm from reaching the egg.
A healthcare provider or your gynecologist inserts a small T-shaped device into your uterus, anytime from two to six weeks after delivery. You can get it removed once you’re ready to get pregnant again.
As the name implies, these pills contain only one hormone – progestin, which is the synthetic version of the hormone, progesterone. Since it doesn’t contain any Estrogen, it’s often the recommended contraceptive pill for breastfeeding mothers.
It’s available as a 28-pill pack. You can start by taking these 6 to 8 weeks after delivery. To improve the efficiency, make sure to take the pill at the same time every day.
In these methods, you use a physical barrier to block the sperm from entering the uterus and causing fertilisation. They do not contain any hormones and hence don’t interfere with lactation. These are readily available OTC and some of the popular options include:
Condoms (male and female)
It’s a small, match-stick sized flexible plastic rod that’s inserted into the upper arm. Once in place, it releases progestin and is effective in preventing pregnancy for up to 4 years. You can get it inserted any time after pregnancy and can get it removed once you’re ready to get pregnant.
Here, you’re given an injection containing progestin, which helps in preventing pregnancies. A single shot offers three months of protection. However, remember that if you want to get pregnant again, you may have to wait up to 10 months to one year, for the effects of the shot to wear off.
If you’re sure that your family is complete and don’t want another child, then you can opt for female sterilisation. It’s a permanent form of birth control. It’s a surgical procedure, where your tubes are tied or cut to prevent pregnancy.
It doesn’t interfere with your regular menstrual cycle. You can have the procedure immediately after childbirth for both vaginal birth and C-section.
Morning after Pills
These are emergency pills and are meant to be taken when you’ve had unprotected sex and don’t want to get pregnant. These pills are safe to use while breastfeeding. However, they are emergency contraceptives only and not an alternative for regular birth control.
Final Thoughts – Get the help of your gynecologist to choose the Right Method
Go in for a consultation with your gynecologist to select the right breastfeeding contraception that suits your body and lifestyle. Make sure to evaluate the safety, effectiveness and ease-of-use of each contraceptive to pick the right one.