Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding, Birth Control & Baby Spacing

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A question that many nursing moms want to know is “what kind of birth control is safe or acceptable while breastfeeding?” The answer depends on whether you are considering the effectiveness or any negative impact on breastfeeding for your baby.

All the barrier methods are of course safe for you and your baby, and will not interfere at all with your milk supply. The thing to consider is the rate of effectiveness of these methods. Barrier methods such as Diaphragms, condoms, cervical caps, etc... have an effectiveness rate of about 75-85%.

You can also you hormonal contraceptives (birth control pills, patches, etc.) they are safe while breastfeeding but the ones with estrogen have the potential to decrease your milk supply.

If you are going to use a hormonal birth control method, a progesterone-only or “mini pill” would be preferable in order to maintain your milk supply. Although the effectiveness rates on hormonal contraception are quite high (92-98%), the progesterone-only pills are “less forgiving” if you were to forget to take the pill each day, or even if you took it at a different time of the day! You need to be careful and create a reminder for yourself or you could become pregnant and not know it. If you are a person who tends to forget to take your pill, this may not be the ideal method for you.

Breastfeeding itself (known as LAM) is actually a very effective form of birth control! At 95-98% effectiveness, it can be as good as the pill, but you will have to be careful to follow three important rules!

1. First, you must be exclusively breastfeeding (no formula, water or food).
2. Second, the baby must be less than 6 months of age.
3. Lastly, you cannot have had your menstrual cycle or period return. That can mean you are ovulating again.

If any of these “rules” are not followed, all bets are off and you can get pregnant!! Make sure you use another birth control method if you do not want to get pregnant again.

For most breastfeeding moms it is more common to not get your period while you are breastfeeding. This is one of the many advantages. However, more and more breastfeeding moms are getting their periods and ovulating even while exclusively breastfeeding. While it is a common benefit that breastfeeding moms enjoy, it is not a guarantee.

Whatever method you choose, just remember to pay close attention to your body’s signs. The research shows, and most experts agree, that spacing your pregnancies at least 12 18 months apart when possible, is not only healthier for you but also for your next baby.

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