Quite often the last thing any Mum wants to even think about after labour or a c section is starting to make love again however that time will come and when it does it is important to know your options regarding contraception.
Breastfeeding as a Contraceptive
Considering breastfeeding as a form of contraception is common and yet often misunderstood by many who think of it as an Old Wive’s Tale. In actual fact breastfeeding may actually prove very effective at preventing pregnancy provided all “conditions” are met.
No method of contraception is 100% perfect. The pill sometimes fails, condoms breaks and things do go wrong. When breastfeeding the FPA (Family Planning Association) consider this form of contraception to be approximately 98% effective provided:
1. Mum is breastfeeding fully i.e. not supplementing feeds with formula, solids etc.
2. Mum is mostly fully breastfeeding i.e. giving baby other liquids occasionally if she had no periods AND the baby is under six months old.
The risk of this form of contraception failing increases after the baby is six months, especially if you have long time intervals between breast feeding sessions (during the day and the night) or if you stop night feeds and use other feeding methods other than breast.
More on what the FPA say about contraception and breastfeeding may be found here.
Using Regular Contraception When Breastfeeding
When using a contraceptive which contains hormones a small about will pass through to the breast milk and to the child. There is no evidence to suggest that this does the baby any harm. It is however considered wise to wait at least six months before starting the combined pill, a patch or similar hormonal contraceptive methods as this may well reduce your flow of milk.
What Are Your Contraception Options?
Your six week post birth check up with your GP is a good time to discuss your health, any concerns and questions you have and to make plans regarding your contraception. The GP will be able to offer a range of choices and give up to date advice on how each will affect you, your breastfeeding and more.
Want to Wait?
Some Mums prefer not to go back onto a contraceptive pill or use a device straight away, prefering for their bodies to find their natural rhythm again and have a break first. There is nothing wrong with this at all however it would be wise to consider how you would cope with already having a young baby if you fell pregnant again. Would you be able to cope? Is it worth taking a chance? Using a barrier method of contraception until you decide what you and your partner wish to do with regards to contraception could be an option.
Get Proper Advice
Make sure that you know your options, talking to your local family planning clinic, your GP or a suitable healthcare provider. Having all of the information to hand and someone able to discuss each method in detail will enable you to make an informed choice.