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Should I Take Birth Control While Breastfeeding? Experts Weigh In

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Remember that old wive's tale about how you can't get pregnant as long as you're breastfeeding? Remember all those stories about your friend's sister's cousin who got pregnant when she was breastfeeding? Well, there's a reason you can't believe everything you hear. So if you're asking yourself, "Should I take birth control while breastfeeding?" know that you're on the right track. I mean, at least you're not listening to your best friend's sister's cousin's sister when it comes to your continued reproductive health, right?

For the first six months after you give birth, if you are breastfeeding regularly and you haven't gotten your first postpartum period yet, you shouldn't have to worry about getting pregnant. According to Planned Parenthood, "For up to the first six months after your baby is born, you can rely on breastfeeding as birth control if you have not gotten your period yet and are not feeding your baby formula or food."

But in order for breastfeeding to be sufficient as a means of birth control for those first six months, you'll need to be breastfeeding exclusively. In other words, you can't be supplementing with formula. You'll also need to be feeding on demand and around the clock, and your baby can't be going longer than four hours during the day, and six hours at night, between feedings.

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Once you've gotten your first postpartum period, however, you'll want to look into another form of birth control. So what types of birth control are safe when you're breastfeeding? Turns out a whole lot of birth control is perfectly safe for you to take when you're breastfeeding, from IUDs, to diaphragms to certain types of hormonal birth control pills, according to Parents.

There are a few things you'll want to consider when it comes to postpartum birth control,t hough. First, you shouldn't use any type of birth control that involves inserting something into your vagina until you have had your postpartum check-up six weeks after you give birth. That means, according to Parents, that if your preferred method of contraception is a diaphragm, you'll need to wait until you get the all-clear from your doctor six weeks after giving birth. You might also need to order a different sized diaphragm if you've given birth, to ensure a snug fit.

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Likewise, BabyCenter says you'll want to wait until your postpartum appointment to talk to your doctor about an IUD, too. Your doctor can likely insert an IUD at this appointment, if that's the birth control method you choose.

Some types of hormonal birth control pills can be taken as early as 21 days after you give birth, but keep in mind that some hormonal birth control methods can affect your milk supply, according to WebMD. If you're concerned about your milk supply while breastfeeding, it's advised that you wait until your baby is at least 6 months old before you start using birth control, in order to preserve your milk supply.