Now that you’re settling in with your little one and starting to feel more like yourself, you might be thinking about having sex again. Despite what you might have heard, breastfeeding is not effective birth control.
Many women mistakenly think that they’re not fertile and they would not be able to get pregnant until after they have a period, but, that’s not true!
Remember from high-school biology that we ovulate and release an egg 10 days to 2 weeks before our menstrual periods? So, just because you’re not having periods doesn’t mean that you’re not already making eggs and fertile again.
Of course, if you’re able to, we all encourage moms to breastfeed and/or pump to provide your baby with breastmilk as long as you like. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends breastfeeding exclusively for 6 months and continuing with breastmilk while introducing other foods for 12 months.
Maintaining Milk Supply
No mom wants to stop breastfeeding before she’s ready. You don’t have to stop breastfeeding to use effective contraception. There are a few things to keep in mind when you talk to your provider.
- Pills, patches and rings that contain both estrogen and a progestin will decrease your milk supply
- There are progesterone only pills and other methods that only contain a progestin that will not decrease your milk supply
With breastfeeding and/or pumping
For moms who want the convenience of using a pill for contraception, what’s recommended:
- A Progesterone Only Pill, (POP), also known as the Mini-Pill, which only has progesterone and does not contain estrogen
- A progesterone only IUD such as Liletta, Mirena, Skyla or Kyleena
- A copper containing IUD such as Paraguard
- A progesterone only Implant such as Nexplanon
- A progesterone only injection such as Depo-Provera
No matter what your choice is, it’s important to consider a few things, such as ease of use, effectiveness and whether the method will be convenient with your new mom routine and schedule. It’s also important when having sex to use a lubricant, as breastfeeding causes the vagina to become much drier and have less ability to stretch and expand. (It’s because the prolactin that helps you make milk, inhibits estrogen in the vaginal and vulvar tissue.) Don’t worry, after you wean your baby, sex will become more comfortable again, but in the meantime, do use a lubricant.
For more information on lubricants, watch my video: Slippery Subject.
If you need more information and help with breastfeeding, check out my award winning Personal Guide to Breastfeeding
The La Leche League has more information on birth control while breastfeeding.