Can I Choose Any Birth Control?
Most women who are bringing home a new baby don’t want to get pregnant again immediately. But are all birth control options available during the postpartum period? Here’s what women need to know about choosing contraception while breastfeeding.
1. Consider how exclusive breastfeeding will be
One common birth control method while breastfeeding is the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM). This strategy is for women who exclusively breastfeed and can prevent pregnancy for up to 6 months. If the baby is exclusively breastfeeding, under 6 months old, and the mother’s period has not returned, LAM can be extremely effective. However, women should consider that exclusive breastfeeding can be challenging to maintain. Not all babies nurse well or easily. And exclusivity means that the new mom has to nurse every 4 hours during the day and every 6 hours at night.
2. Do you want contraception now or forever?
While many contraceptive methods are reversible or temporary, there are some that are permanent. For example, women who are done having children can choose to undergo tubal ligation. This birth control method is extremely effective, but should only be done by women who know that family planning is done.
3. Talk with a doctor about timing
Hormonal birth control methods cannot be used for the first 3 weeks after giving birth. Some options can be used right away, though a doctor may recommend waiting. For example, IUDs can be placed soon after delivery. However, an OB/GYN may advise waiting for 2-6 weeks until the body is more healed, and postpartum bleeding has stopped.
4. Be realistic with what you’ll remember
Bringing home a new member of the family is an exciting time. But the time is also filled with exhaustion and stress. New moms should be honest about how easy remembering to take a daily pill will be. Many women may opt for one of the set-and-forget birth control methods, such as an IUD, implant, or shot. These may be more effective than the pill or natural family planning methods during such a busy season of life.
Make a birth control plan
Moms who are breastfeeding have a variety of options for birth control. These women should consult with a doctor ahead of time to understand all of the limitations, pros, and cons of the different methods. Speak with an OB/GYN for more help choosing contraception.