Breastfeeding And Contraception

By Dr. Angela,

Can breastfeeding be used as a form of birth control? Can hormonal contraceptive methods be used while breastfeeding? Dr. Angela answers these questions and more!

 
                           

One of the more common topics that will be addressed at your 6 week postpartum visit is contraception. To use, or not to use….that is the question.

Once the decision has been made to use something, the next most common query I get involves breastfeeding and the safety of using hormonal contraception while breastfeeding. Most new moms are concerned about the hormones decreasing their milk supply. I was recently posed this question on the Ask Dr. Angela Podcast(episode83) as well as several direct messages on social media. Here are my thoughts:

First off, I would definitely use something and not rely exclusively on breastfeeding for contraception. I have seen far too many women with surprise pregnancies that relied solely on breastfeeding for birth control. Just delivered a woman this happened to. I saw her for her new obstetric visit and she was already 20 weeks along……Talk about SHOCKING!

Theoretically speaking, by the time you are seen for your 6 week postpartum visit, your milk supply should be established enough that a low dose combination pill shouldn’t significantly affect your milk supply. Now the operative words here are SHOULDN’T and SIGNIFICANTLY……

So, could your milk supply be affected? Maybe.

What’s significant? Depends on who you ask.

In my moms that don’t want to take any chances, the usual option is a progesterone only form of contraception whether that be a progesterone containing iud, Depo-Provera, pill(progesterone only), or non-hormonal forms of contraception such as the Paragard iud or barrier methods….yes, folks still use condoms.

And what happens if you opted for a progesterone only form of birth control and your milk supply still decreases?

Some might recommend stopping the hormones all together and opting for something non-hormonal.

If you are looking for hints on how to increase milk supply in general, here is what my lactation friends shared with me:

  • Nurse, nurse, nurse. No supplementing if you can get away with it.
  • Ask for help sooner than later. Just because you are no longer in the hospital doesn’t mean you can’t still reach out to the lactation consultants.
  • Make sure you are taking care of YOU! Most new moms get so caught up in the hustle and bustle of caring for a new baby that they neglect themselves. Make sure you are eating healthy meals and hydrating!
  • Share the love! Use both breasts when breastfeeding!
  • Sweat the technique! Remember that rap song “Don’t Sweat the Technique” by Eric B. and Rakim? CLASSIC….anyway, you want to “sweat the technique” when breastfeeding. It’s important to make sure baby is getting a good latch.

Alternative suggestions such as Fenugreek, Red Thistle, eating increased amounts of oatmeal, etc., are “natural” remedies for increasing milk supply. I’m still waiting to see the scientific data that supports these options one way or the other.

Hoping this blog post has added value to your day!

Until next time,

Look Better. Feel Better. Be Better.

Dr. Angela


READ: THINGS YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT PREGNANCY AND PARENTHOOD


About Dr. Angela : Wife, mother, Midwesterner, and award-winning OB/GYN, Dr. Angela is equal parts best girlfriend and bold professional, supporting women’s health with innovative approaches to care and heavy doses of humor. Dr. Angela has done more than launch a successful practice, she has defined herself as a voice for a new generation of womanhood, established her ASK DR. ANGELA brand committed to authenticity, and built a community rooted in trust, candor, and compassion. Find more of Dr. Angela on her website and on her Instagram account.


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