Hormonal Birth Control and Breastfeeding

photo courtesy of thedailygreen.com

There is a longstanding rumor that it is not possible to become pregnant while you are breastfeeding.  However, it is simply not true.  Breastfeeding does generally decrease your fertility, and therefore you may find that you do not menstruate for months after having your baby.  However, the body will typically release its first postpartum egg about two weeks before you experience your first post-baby period.  Therefore, it is very possible that you can become pregnant while you are still breastfeeding.

At that point, with all that your body has just been through, you may not want to become pregnant again immediately.  Initially, abstinence is recommended.  Doctors will usually tell women who have just given birth to put off having sex until their six-week postpartum examination, at which point the progress of their healing can be checked and they can be medically cleared.  However, once given the green light, hormonal birth control methods are not the best option for breastfeeding women. First, oral contraceptives containing estrogen are known to suppress milk production.  Second, any type of hormonal birth control will enter into the breast milk you are feeding your child.  Physicians still do not know what type of impact these hormones have on children’s long term sexual and reproductive development.

Therefore, non-hormonal forms of birth control are ideal for the nursing mother.  This can include the use of condoms, diaphragms, sponges, or cervical caps.  However, these forms of birth control are subject to human error in usage that can decrease their effectiveness.  Women have an affordable, accurate, and all-natural alternative for fertility control with Lady-Comp. Lady-Comp is a computer which will determine your ovulation with 99.3% accuracy based simply on the data you provide and your daily morning body temperature.

During the time of reduced fertility immediately postpartum and the initial stages of breastfeeding, Lady-Comp shows yellow.  Just try to take your temperature as often as possible. Your temperatures are a typical zig-zag pattern.  Lady-Comp plus a barrier method like the condoms, diaphragms, sponges or cervical caps are the best choice during this time.

Once you and your baby reduce the frequency of breastfeeding, your body starts to produce hormones inducing ovulation (FSH).  You will notice a change in the pattern of cervical mucus – sometimes being more fluid.  During this time you are potentially fertile.  Lady-comp still shows yellow, but your wake-up temperatures drop to a lower level with fewer disturbances.  This is the time to be extra cautious when making love.

As soon as your first ovulation has taken place, Lady-Comp will notice a significant change in your temperature pattern and show green when it is sure you are definitely infertile.  About 8 days later you will have your first menstruation and Lady-Comp will be able to predict future ovulations.

Be aware that only the change of temperature can show you for sure that you ovulated. The mucus pattern comes and goes like waves – thus it’s a sign of being fertile, but not good enough to establish that ovulation has definitely taken place.

 

The Mini Pill

Very broadly, birth control is anything that aids in preventing pregnancy, ranging from condoms to sponges to contraceptive gels.  One very popular form of birth control is the hormonal contraception referred to as “the pill”, which women take orally.  When taken correctly, the pill is 99.9% effective in preventing pregnancy.

The standard birth control pill typically contains a combination of synthetic estrogen and progestin hormones.  These products work together to inhibit the actions of the body’s natural cyclical hormones by stopping the body from ovulating, changing the cervical mucus to make it more difficult for a sperm to reach the egg, and by making the lining of the womb inhospitable for the implantation of a fertilized egg.

The mini pill works slightly differently.  First, it contains just one hormone, progestin.  The lack of estrogen makes the mini pill ideal for breastfeeding mothers and those who react poorly to estrogen therapy.  The main function of the mini pill is to thicken the cervical mucus so that sperm cannot reach the egg.  It also changes the uterine lining to make implantation unlikely to occur.  In some women, the mini pill will actually prevent the release of an egg altogether.

The downside is that it is less reliable than other types of birth control pills.  When used correctly, it is only 95% effective.  Further, while the health risks are less than the actual pill, women who have certain conditions should consult a doctor or stay away from it entirely.  Those with undiagnosed vaginal bleeding, severe artery disease, liver tumors, porphyria, those with a history of breast cancer and those who have had an ectopic pregnancy should definitely take caution.

Birth Control While Breast Feeding

You have just given birth, and while you are thrilled with your new bundle of joy, you are not ready for another just yet.  If you are in this situation, it is important for you to know that contrary to popular perception, it is possible to get pregnant while breastfeeding.

After your baby is born, your body produces lactation hormones which suppress reproductive hormones.  However, this does not render you completely infertile.  Your hormonal levels will vary depending on how often you feed your baby.  Mothers who feed less have a greater fluctuation and thus will become fertile more quickly.  Additionally, you should keep in mind that your first post-childbirth ovulation occurs a full two weeks before the start of your period, and since this could happen at any time, you need to be prepared.

While you are breastfeeding your child, you may wish to eliminate hormonal forms of birth control, such as the pill, the patch, and the ring.  According to renowned pediatrician Dr. William Sears, there are two major concerns about using hormonal birth control while breastfeeding.  The first is that estrogen, a common hormone in birth control pills, is known to suppress milk production.  Second, doctors feel that by exposing your infant to synthetic hormones through your breast milk, you could impact their long-term sexual or reproductive development.

Presented with this conundrum, you may determine it safer to pursue a non-hormonal form of birth control.  Before you head to the store to purchase disposable contraception products, consider Lady Comp.  It is a personal fertility monitor which learns and adjusts to your individual cycle regardless of irregularities or cycle length.  Lady Comp is programmed with a database of more than 900,000 cycles and uses bio-mathematical forecasting calculations, as well as the very latest computer techniques, to predict your cycle with 99.3% accuracy, primarily based on your morning body temperature.   To learn more about Lady Comp, please feel free to call us at 1-877-925-LADY.  We are looking forward to speaking with you.