Can You Safely Combine Birth Control and Breastfeeding

Here’s a fun fact: The World Health Organization considers breastfeeding as an effective contraception. This family planning method actually known as Lactational Amennorhea Method and relies on three factors: 1) the return of a woman’s menstrual period, 2) the frequency and pattern of breastfeeding, and 3) the length of time used in the postpartum period. If a woman’s period returns, it means she is now capable of ovulating, and may become pregnant again. If breastfeeding is regular and consistent, the more effective LAM is said to be. Finally, LAM is more effective during the first six months of the postpartum period. All these three factors work in tandem as a reliable contraception method.

However, many women want to be double-protected. As a result, the question of the safety and effectiveness of birth control methods during breastfeeding arises. Can a woman use birth control while she is breastfeeding? This article gives you the answer by looking at the different methods of birth control.

Non-hormonal / barrier contraceptives

This type of contraceptives works simply by blocking the entry of sperm into the fallopian tubes, and therefore inhibiting the meeting of sperm and egg cells. It does not in any way, tap into a woman’s hormones, nor does it add anything on to the mother’s milk. If the mother is regularly breastfeeding and is therefore using LAM as a primary contraception, she and her partner can choose to be double-safe by using barrier and non-hormonal protection such as condoms, diaphragm, vaginal sponges, spermicides, cervical caps or IUD (intrauterine device). These do not have any effect on a mother’s ability to breastfeed, nor will they affect the baby in any way.

These are generally safe and effective, however a woman intending to use an internally-fit device such as a diaphragm or an IUD must consult her doctor for a refitting, because of change in size and shape of the cervix and vagina post-partum.

Traditional Calendar or Rhythm Method

Some couples rely on oldest method of contraception – the rhythm method. It is called such because it involves abstinence from sex on days when a woman is believed to be fertile in a given month. This can be utilized only if a woman’s period has returned, as there’s no sense in using the “rhythm” if she is still not menstruating. If couples are insistent on using this method, they may consult with a specialist to ensure they have their rhythm estimations accurate while still being able to breastfeed.

Hormonal Methods (Pills, Patches and Shots)

These are the trickiest, as some substances affect the milk supply negatively. Therefore the use of pills, patches and shots are more complicated than other forms of birth control. If it is inevitable, a woman should inform her doctor that she is breastfeeding. The doctor will be able to prescribe a progestin-only contraceptive, which will not affect the milk supply in any way. IN some cases, it may even help boost milk production. Combination pills (estrogen and progestin pills) reduce the supply of milk significantly, so it is recommended that mothers consider this type ONLY after six months of continuous breastfeeding. This is to ensure that the baby has been given sufficient nutrients and anti-bodies during the first six months of life.

Permanent Methods

If a woman and her partner have decided they will no longer have babies in the future, they can undergo sterilization. The man may undergo vasectomy, and the woman, tubal ligation. These have no effect on breastfeeding, and a woman will be able to continue to breastfeed after the procedure.

This guest post was written by Johanna Almazar RN. Johanna writes about pregnancy, conception and fertility at PregnancyWizard.Com
Johanna Almazar, RN, is a registered nurse of the Philippines. She has made a career out of educating Asians as well as Europeans on the effective use of the English language. She is a dedicated writer and a consistent contributor to the website Pregnancyquickstart.com. During the day, she is an IELTS (International English Language Testing System) coach for a US-based premiere review facility for nurses who wish to migrate.

Hanna has traveled transculturally to several parts of the world, and had lived with her family in Qatar for twelve years before returning to the Philippines for further studies. She has attended various prestigious trainings on verbal and written communication, such as the Toastmasters’ International, a nonprofit organization committed to enhance the leadership and public speaking ability of its members. She also trained for radio broadcasting with one of the country’s local stations through a program called Aircheck.

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