Are you a new mom who has heard the advice, “You don’t need birth control when you’re breastfeeding,”? Well, this is both true and false. Let’s get into the facts, and what you need to know about how birth control affects your breastmilk.
Is Breastfeeding A Form Of Birth Control?
The short answer is yes. According to Planned Parenthood, breastfeeding as a form of birth control is 98% effective!
However, there are certain criteria to meet if it’s going to act as a successful form of birth control.
- Breastfeeding as birth control is only effective for up to six months after giving birth.
- You need to be exclusively breastfeeding, which means nursing at least every four hours during the day and at least every six hours at night.
- Your period has not returned (menstruation signals ovulation).
So, what happens when you ease up on breastfeeding?
How Does Birth Control Affect Breastmilk?
When you get back to your menstruation cycle and you’re not exclusively breastfeeding your baby anymore – and you don’t want to get pregnant again – your doctor will suggest going on a hormonal birth control product.
One of the most common forms of contraception is the pill, which comes in two options: Estrogen and progestin combination pills, and progestin only pills called the mini-pill. You want to avoid the former, as Very Well Family explains, “The estrogen in the combination pill is not considered dangerous to a breastfed baby. However, estrogen can cause a decrease in the supply of breastmilk.”
How Does The Mini-Pill Work?
If you want to take a birth control pill and not disrupt your breastmilk supply, you’ll want to rather go for a progestin only product.
It’s a good idea to have a daily alarm to remind you to take your birth control, as the mini-pill only works if you take it every day at the same time. If you are even three hours late to take your pill, the American Academy of Family Physicians recommends using condoms or delaying sex until your next period to avoid unplanned pregnancy.
Is An IUD An Option?
For a long-term solution and one you don’t have to remember to take everyday, you could go the IUD route.
An IUD is a small, T-shaped device inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. “Two types are available: One that’s copper and another that contains the hormone progestin. Either one is fine for nursing moms. The copper IUD has no hormones to affect your milk supply. The other has low levels of progestin, which won’t cause problems with your supply,” says WebMD.
You can get an IUD right after giving birth, or around six weeks postpartum.
What Else Affects Breastmilk?
Basically, when you don’t look after your health and well-being, your breastmilk supply can be impacted. In fact, stress and fatigue are two of the most common causes of low breastmilk supply.
Looking after a newborn and yourself can be challenging, especially in the first few weeks and months postpartum. Don’t hold back from asking for help when you need it. Reach out to your partner, family, or a medical professional.
Your food also impacts your milk. Feeding yourself well is one of the keys to breastfeeding your baby. Breastfeeding burns calories (around 200 to 500 extra calories a day!) so make sure to eat healthy fats like avocado, peanut butter, yogurt, olive oil, and eggs. Getting your fruits and veggies (oranges, tomatoes, red sweet peppers, spinach, carrots, and sweet potatoes are all USDA recommended) as well as lean proteins and fatty fish like salmon can also have a positive impact on your breastmilk supply.
Do you feel overwhelmed by the amount of information out there around breastfeeding and newborns?
It’s hard to know where to find answers as a parent… and knowing whether those answers are from a trusted source is even more of a challenge!
That’s why I created a free guide. My key essential truths are backed by evidence to help you in your parenting journey.
Get the free Essential Truths: A free guide to Birth, Babies & Breastfeeding today!