In Part 1 of Breastfeeding and Birth Control I discussed various hormonal birth control options for breastfeeding mothers to include a quick overview of how they work and how they might affect your breastfeeding goals. In Part 2 of Breastfeeding and Birth Control we’ll discuss non hormonal options. It should be noted that non-hormonal options should have NO affect on your milk supply. However, some of the non hormonal methods have a higher rate for failure and may affect your body in other ways, such as an allergic reaction.
The Copper IUD
Like discussed in Part 1, an IUD is an intrauterine device that is placed into your uterus by your health care provider and requires an in-office visit. The IUDs previously discussed contain low doses of hormones that are delivered directly into your uterus. A copper IUD does not have any hormones and works by acting similarly to a spermicide and does not allow the sperm to reach the egg. They are extremely effective in preventing pregnancy but do not affect fertility, and some can be used for up to 12 years.
Having an IUD alone does NOT provide protection from STDs, so if you are having intercourse outside of monogamous relationships, use of a condom is recommended. Also, a common side effect can be heavier periods and cramping.
The MAAAMs thoughts: If you are in a monogamous relationship, have problems with hormonal birth control, and are looking for long term birth control, I think this is an excellent option. The chances of having a reaction to the copper are extremely rare, and while you may experience some increase in menstrual bleeding and cramping, it generally decreases over time.
There are several barrier methods that can be used to include the male condom, female condom, and cervical cap. The goal of these is to provide a physical, and sometimes chemical barrier to keep the sperm from the egg. Many of these forms of birth control can also protect from Sexually Transmitted Diseases.
There are a couple of caveats to these methods, and the first is that some of the population is allergic to latex, the material most often used in these methods. If you are using a barrier method that is not made from latex (like these lamb skin condoms), it may only provide a barrier for sperm and not additional STD protection. The effectiveness of these methods for preventing pregnancy relies heavily on user competence.
The MAAAMs thoughts: When used correctly, condoms can provide a high rate of protection from pregnancy and STDs. But it’s very easy to use them incorrectly, or just get caught up in a passionate moment and throw caution to the wind. If you are having frequent intercourse, it may be wise to consider long term birth control with condoms as a backup.
Spermicide is a chemical that is used to kill sperm, so it never has a chance to fertilize the egg. It usually comes as a gel or a foam, or sometimes as a film placed internally. While spermicides have no known side effects on breast milk, it does contain chemicals and can cause certain skin irritations or even allergic reactions. Spermicide only has about a 75% protection rate.
Spermicide alone does NOT provide protection from STDs, so if you are having intercourse outside of monogamous relationships, use of a condom is recommended. It should also be noted that spermicides can actually increase your risk of contracting HIV.
The MAAAMs thoughts: honestly there is something about spermicide that creeps me out, I can’t really explain it. There are many other options that can better suit your contraceptive needs. It does have it’s place though, and should primarily be used as a backup method.
Natural Family Planning
Natural family planning goes by other names such as the rhythm method or fertility awareness. It involves specified timing of intercourse with the goal of abstaining or use of other forms of contraception during and around the time of ovulation. In a perfect world, where each woman knows her body intimately, and where each couple is able to abstain from sexual intercourse during and around ovulation or use a back up method perfectly…..then Natural Family Planning is a very effective form of birth control that will have ZERO impact on your milk supply.
I feel like it goes without saying, but Ima gonna say it: Natural Family Planning alone does NOT provide protection from STDs, so if you are having intercourse outside of monogamous relationships, use of a condom is recommended.
The MAAAM’s thoughts: This method works really well for some people, and particularly for those people who are planning families. I have many personal reservations regarding it’s use though. Many women are simply not in touch with their cycles to really know when they are ovulating. Additionally, women tend to have a higher libido during ovulation and not being able to have intercourse when you’re really ‘horny’ seems like a big downer to me. I would only recommend this method to women who have a good grasp on their cycles and feel confident in being able to abstain or use a back up method during this time. I also want to bring attention to the fact that some studies have shown women can ovulate more than once a month!!
The world of birth control can be a little overwhelming and confusing, I really hope that the synopsis of choices I have provided can help you to make an informed decision. Knowledge is power, and one great place to start is by taking steps to learn about your cycle and your own Get a Clue about the changes your body goes through each day through it’s cycle.