Breastfeeding and birth control are compatible. Besides natural family planning (fertility awareness methods), there are other options of birth control while breastfeeding.
Natural family planning is based on figuring out infertile days and planning sexual activity on these days. Woman’s natural infertility periods are breastfeeding, pregnancy, menstruation and post-menopause.
However, if fertility awareness methods are not right for you,
try (1)non-hormonal barrier methods, (2)other non-hormonal options or (3)hormone-based birth control; or use them in combination with the natural
methods. Unlike hormone-based, non-hormonal options do not affect your milk supply
or your baby.
Another group of contraceptives is hormonal. I include it as the last in order of preference and the negative effect on breastfeeding. Milk production and release are hormone-regulated; therefore, any hormonal changes in the body can potentially adversely affect breastfeeding.
In general, hormone-based contraceptives can be of two varieties: single-hormone and combined. There is also the so-called emergency contraception.
They contain smaller amount of progestin (artificial progesterone) and no estrogen. With the exception of rare cases, progestin doesn’t affect milk quality and quantity and doesn’t pose risk for baby’s development.
Estrogen suppresses milk production and may pose long-term risk for the baby, therefore, is not breastfeeding-friendly. Single-hormone contraceptives come in the form of oral contraceptives (called mini-pills), injections, implants and IUDs.
Even progestin-only contraceptives should be used a week or two after the delivery, when milk supply is established. Some women (including me) experience a slight reduction in milk production even with estrogen-free contraceptives. Therefore, before committing to injections, implants or IUDs, try the mini-pill to see what effect this type of birth control has on you.
I was taking the mini-pill throughout my entire breastfeeding experience. My doctor prescribed micronor 28. My experience was good, except for slight supply reduction. Keep in mind it was in 2010, so talk to your doctor to see if it is still recommended.
They contain both progestin and estrogen and come in the form of a pill, ring, patch or shot. These are not recommended for nursing mothers, as estrogen significantly weakens milk production.
These are the contraceptives that are taken after the intercourse to prevent ovulation and fertilization. They can be pills (morning-after pills) or IUDs. If you don’t use any additional birth-control other than nursing, and your nursing has lately been irregular, emergency contraceptives may help prevent unplanned pregnancy.
With my birth control plan I did things a first-time mom with little knowledge on the subject would do. Now if I were to do it over, I wouldn’t have started the mini-pill during first couple of weeks after delivery. I would exclusively breastfeed to build up my milk supply and rely on Lactation Amenorrhea Method (LAM) for the first six months, and then do pills. My milk production was inhibited by the mini-pill and I could never get it back.
Breastfeeding and birth control decision is a matter of preference and personal health situation of every mother and baby. I hope this information helps you understand your breastfeeding and birth control options. Talk to your doctor, explore, research and the most important of all …breastfeed!
There are many ways to show your love and devotion to your kids and to win their trust. Breastfeeding is the most natural one.