Most methods of birth control are not harmful to nursing infants but any hormonal birth control can cause issues with milk supply. Progestin-only birth control is generally considered breastfeeding compatible, but combination birth control (containing estrogen and progestin) is typically not recommended.
Breastfeeding can cause the delayed return of fertility for some mothers, but only if certain conditions are met. Like any method of contraception, there is a certain rate of failure and many factors can affect the success rate. Check out the graphic below for more information on this method.
For more information on hormonal birth control:
- LLL Breastfeeding Answer Book, March 2012: Contraception
- Academy of Breastfeeding Medicine Clinical Protocol #13, Contraception During Breastfeeding
- Safe Use of Birth Control While Breastfeeding, Hale’s Infant Risk
- Birth Control and Breastfeeding, Kellymom
Long-acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) Methods
LARC methods include the intrauterine device (IUD) and the birth control implant. Both methods are highly effective in preventing pregnancy, last for several years, and are easy to use. Both are reversible—if you want to become pregnant or if you want to stop using them, you can have them removed at any time.
The IUD is a small, T-shaped, plastic device that is inserted into and left inside of the uterus. There are two types of IUDs:
- The hormonal IUD releases progestin. One hormonal IUD is approved for use for up to 5 years. Another is approved for use for up to 3 years. The progesterone-releasing IUD delivers its hormone directly to the lining of the uterus, which only leads to a slight increase in progesterone levels in the blood stream (much lower than that found with the progesterone-only pill). As a result, there is much less chance of side effects from the progesterone than from the injection or mini-pill.
- The copper IUD does not contain hormones. It is approved for use for up to 10 years.
The birth control implant is a single flexible rod about the size of a matchstick that is inserted under the skin in the upper arm. It releases progestin into the body. It protects against pregnancy for up to 3 years.
For more information on LARC:
- The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Long-Acting-Reversible-Contraception-LARC-IUD-and-Implant
Other birth control options include barrier methods and fertility awareness methods. They are not harmful to nursing infants and don’t affect milk supply.
For more information on other birth control:
- Barrier Methods https://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Barrier-Methods-of-Birth-Control-Spermicide-Condom-Sponge-Diaphragm-and-Cervical-Cap
- Fertility Awareness Method http://www.tcoyf.com/fertility-info/birth-control-faq
- Natural Family Planning http://nfpandmore.org/
Whatever method of family planning you choose, we love to recommend that any person with a uterus read the book Taking Charge of Your Fertility, to better understand your reproductive system, and truly take charge of your body.