Saturday, April 16, 2011

Birthcontrol while breastfeeding

I recently received an email from my dear friend who had recently given birth (to the most adorable child, might I add) asking for advice on what she should use for birth control while she was still breastfeeding:
"IUDs: mirena vs. copper T. Or birth control pill with only progesterone (mini-pill)??"

After a little contemplation, I gave her my thoughts:

So, the mini-pill is 85% effective, so that is something to think about. This is a common option for women while breast feeding, but again, not as effective as other forms of BC. Some women are also sensitive to progesterone, so taking that without the estrogen to balance you may be hormonally difficult.

As for IUDs, they are apparently quite painful when inserted (my friend said that having the IUD put in was more painful than childbirth), and there is always the risk of PID (pelvic inflammatory disease). I would probably have this put in if a)god forbid something happens, you would be ok with just one child, and b) you know you want SEVERAL years between pregnancies. Otherwise, just too painful. As far as IUDs, I would probably stick with Mirena, since apparently periods tend to be more painful and heavier with the copper.

Breastfeeding is also a method of birth control if you are doing it continuously and haven't gotten your period yet.

Things to consider:
How long do you want to breastfeed for? If it is a couple months, you mayjust want to suck it up and use condoms.
How long do you want between kiddos?

Here is a chart that I think is helpful:
Planned Parenthood Birth Control Chart

There is no clear and easy answer to this, so it really is just a balancing of priorities.


  1. One more thing to consider is that you have to take the mini-pill pretty much exactly the same time every day. Apparently the effects are so short that messing this up could leave you unprotected...scary thought if you're still breastfeeding and not at all ready for baby #2! I set the alarm on my phone which works out well but I've still messed up a couple of times. There are lots of advantages of the mini-pill, but be prepared to be very careful!

  2. Absolutely true! There is no room for error when taking the mini-pill! If only they could make the mini-ring....

  3. IUD insertion is usually more painful (though still tolerable) in women who have not given birth, but for most women who have given birth vaginally, it is merely uncomfortable. The risk of PID is mostly limited to the first 3 weeks after insertion and is still relatively low, and women can be vigilant for symptoms during that time if they are concerned.
    The first few periods with the copper IUD can be heavy, but the bleeding lessens after a few months.
    IUDs are a great option for birth control before or after pregnancy! Everyone I know who has one loves it.


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