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Breastfeeding and birth control is a huge source of confusion for many new moms. You’ve probably heard a lot of conflicting information and aren’t quite sure what you need to do.
One thing is for sure, though: making sure that you’re properly covered is incredibly important. This post will help break down some of the common myths regarding breastfeeding and birth control so that you can set up a smart, effective plan that will work for you and your family.
Dispelling Myths about Breastfeeding and Birth Control
Myth #1: Breastfeeding = Birth Control
Fact: Breastfeeding Can Be Birth Control, But It Isn’t Always Enough
One of the many benefits of breastfeeding is that it can act as a form of birth control. Mamas who exclusively breastfeed their babies often experience the Lactational Amenorrhea Method of Birth Control (aka LAM). LAM is the natural period of infertility that often occurs when exclusive breastfeeding stops menstruation.
While this method is considered to be highly effective as long as your baby is under 6 months old, your menstrual period hasn’t returned, and your baby is feeding on cue both day and night…it’s still not 100% effective. If back-to-back pregnancies aren’t in your family planning, establishing a breastfeeding-friendly birth control plan with your medical professional is a smart choice.
Myth #2: Birth Control Lowers Breast Milk Supply
Fact: Some Types of Birth Control Can Lower Your Breast Milk Supply; Others Don’t.
When you’re pregnant or breastfeeding, running everything past your medical professional is always a smart call. It’s always better to be on the safe side. Plus, getting an official “okay” from a doctor instead of an internet search will do wonders for your postpartum peace of mind.
While most common forms of birth control are considered to be perfectly safe for nursing moms, birth control methods that contain estrogen (such as vaginal rings, combination birth control pills, or skin patches) have been found to decrease breast milk supply for some women.
When you speak to your doctor about your postpartum, breastfeeding birth control plan, make sure to ask about progestin-only contraceptives (aka, contraceptives that don’t contain any estrogen). There are quite a few to choose from. Everything from birth control injections, the progestin only pill (aka “the mini pill”), progesterone-releasing IUDs, condoms, or birth control implants falls into this category, so you can find an option that works best for you and your family.
Myth #3: Plan B One-Step (aka The Morning After Pill) Isn’t Safe for Nursing Moms.
Fact: Plan B One-Step is a Breastfeeding-Friendly Backup Option For When Your Regular Birth Control Fails.
Hear me on this, mamas—cover your bases. While it would be ideal for your regular birth control plan to be executed to perfection, sometimes slip ups happen. A pill or two is forgotten. A condom doesn’t happen. You know the deal.
Whenever that birth control plan falls through, whatever the reason, having a breastfeeding-friendly backup option is of the utmost importance. Enter: Plan B One-Step.
I know that there are a lot of really big misconceptions about Plan B One-Step. One is that it’s an abortion pill, or has an affect on an existing pregnancy. It doesn’t. Plan B works mainly by delaying ovulation. It helps to prevent pregnancy BEFORE it begins. Along those same lines, taking Plan B One-Step also will not impact a woman’s future (or long-term) fertility.
And as for your breastmilk supply? The active ingredient of Plan B One-Step, levonorgestrel, is the same ingredient in many common birth control pills – just at a higher dose. It’s a progestin-only birth control option, which means it won’t impact your breastmilk supply.
When it comes to Plan B One-Step, the sooner you take it, the better it works. Keeping a pill on-hand at home is a smart strategy to make sure that you are able to take the pill within 72 hours of unprotected sex or birth control failure. You can find them in your local Target along with the other contraceptives and feminine hygiene products, and you won’t need an ID or prescription to purchase. You can find a coupon here to get $10 off your purchase.
Again, please always feel encouraged to run all of this by your medical professional for your own peace of mind, and always make sure to use as directed, whether you’re breastfeeding or not.