At my first postpartum check-up, my doctor asked me if I had given any thought to birth control. Considering sex was not even a word I kept in my head at that point, I didn't really have an answer for her. I was breastfeeding, I was hormonal, and I was having relationship problems. Who the hell is thinking about sex? But I realized if I wanted to have sex and not have another baby right away, I needed to figure out what kind of birth control I should use while breastfeeding.
Turns out that not all of the typical birth control methods are recommended for breastfeeding. Your standard diaphragms and condoms are always OK, but popular choices like combined birth control pills, patches, and vaginal rings aren't. According to Baby Center, these types of birth control contain estrogen which can cause you to produce less milk.
But, there are some hormonal birth control options that are perfectly safe to take while breastfeeding. The Mayo Clinic recommends the mini-pill for breastfeeding mothers. Because it is a contraceptive that contains only progestin, it can provide you with adequate protection without diminishing your milk supply.
If taking a pill is too difficult to remember (trust me, I get it), you can also talk to your doctor about an IUD or an implant like Implanon, notes Parents. These contraceptives also contain progestin and can be placed in your body as soon as you've given birth.
Some mothers may choose the Depo-Provera birth control shot, but there's mixed information out there about whether or not it's recommended for breastfeeding moms. According to information distributed by North Carolina Women's Hospital, some health care providers will suggest that you wait six weeks after giving birth to receive the shot, and it could potentially reduce your breast milk or prevent it from coming in at all, especially if you receive the shot while still in the hospital.
And, finally, if you prefer an all-natural birth control method, you can rely on the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM). Planned Parenthood notes that, when used correctly, this method is effective with less than one out of 100 exclusively breastfeeding women becoming pregnant. LAM works because as your body is continuously and exclusively breastfeeding, your body does not make the hormone necessary for ovulation which means an egg is never released.
To correctly use this method, which is effective for six months after delivery, you must exclusively breastfeed your baby. No meals can be substituted for breast milk, you should be feeding your baby every four hours during the day and every six at night, and you should not have had a period since delivery. If you can check off all those points, LAM can keep you safe from getting pregnant for six months after delivery. At six months, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends giving your baby solid foods, which interrupts the exclusive breastfeeding, making LAM no longer an option for birth control.
And if you ever find yourself in a situation that requires emergency contraception, you can rest easy. There are progestin-only morning-after pills and according to information distributed by Princeton University, emergency contraception should not affect the quality or quantity of your breast milk.