Breastfeeding can give a mother and child a chance to bond, and breast milk is full of important nutrients that a baby needs to grow and thrive. But many breastfeeding mothers worry about birth control, and few women want to become pregnant again soon after giving birth. While some birth control methods, such as hormonal birth control with estrogen, are not compatible with breastfeeding, as they can decrease a woman's milk supply, there are a number of options available for mothers who want to protect against pregnancy while breastfeeding. If you are currently breastfeeding, consider the following birth control options:
A copper IUD is a small device shaped like a T that is inserted into the uterus. A copper IUD does not contain any hormones; instead it prevents pregnancy by causing inflammation inside the uterus that prevents sperm from successfully fertilizing an egg. Your gynecologist can insert a copper IUD during an in-office appointment, and after it is placed in the uterus it can provide effective birth control for as long as 12 years.
A hormonal IUD is inserted in the same manner as a copper IUD, and also provides years of birth control protection. The difference is that this type of IUD utilizes the hormone progestin to prevent pregnancy; progestin causes cervical mucous to thicken and the uterine lining to become very thin, which prevents an egg from becoming fertilized and implanting.
Birth Control Implant
Breastfeeding mothers can opt for a birth control implant to be placed in their arms. Like a hormonal IUD, a birth control implant prevents pregnancy in the same way with progestin. A birth control implant is a small rod, and your gynecologist can insert it by making a small incision in your arm during a regular office visit. You can expect a birth control implant to provide protection from pregnancy for 3 years.
Progestin-Only Birth Control Pill
Most birth control pills have a combination of estrogen and progestin to prevent pregnancy, but a progestin-only pill is a better option for breastfeeding mothers. However, if you choose this birth control method, you must be very diligent for it to be effective. A progestin-only birth control pill must be taken at the same time every day, and if you cease exclusively breastfeeding your child the pill can become less effective.
Condoms are inexpensive and hormone free, and when used correctly they effectively prevent pregnancy. If you choose to utilize condoms while breastfeeding, make sure that your partner puts the condom on before any intercourse occurs.