What is the best Oral Contraceptive for a Breastfeeding Mother?
Having planned pregnancy is indeed a good way to maintain the health of the family. Proper spacing of children is also considered. I gave birth 3 months ago to a healthy baby girl. I also have a son, 9 years of age. My husband and I decided to use Oral Contraceptive Pills as our method of contraception. I bought a pill with a formulation of Levonorgestrel + Estrogen. Not knowing what this drug was, I read the enclosed package leaflet and learned that the content of the pill is not safe for breastfeeding mothers. What Oral Contraceptive Pills are safe for me to use since I am a full-time breastfeeding mum? Thank you for reading my post!
Minipill and breastfeeding
You are correct any combined contraceptive pill (that is one that contains progesterone and oestrogen) is not suitable for breastfeeding women. The contraceptive pill that is sometimes prescribed to breastfeeding women is called the Minipill. This is a progesterone only pill and needs to be taken every day.
The way is works is by thickening the mucous produced by the cervix preventing the sperm making their way up to fertilise the egg. If they happen to make their way to the egg - the progression of the fertilised egg is slowed so it is unlikely to survive. It may also stop ovulation in some women.
The effectiveness of the minipill is around 96% but if you are fully breastfeeding it is more than 99% effective. It is important that you take it within the same 3 hour window every day or it will not work. Some medications interfere with the minipill so you need to talk to your doctor. Any time you are unwell with vomiting or diarrhoea the minipill can be made ineffective.
Possible problems with the minipill include irregular menstrual periods or no periods at all, or some light bleeding between periods and ovarian cysts. If you do conceive on the mini pill there is a risk that it will be ectopic pregnancy. You may also notice a small weight gain, nausea, headaches and/or a loss of libido. A small amount of the progesterone does pass through the breast milk but is though not to cause any problems.
Lactational Amenorrhoea Method
Don't forget you can also use what is know as the Lactational Amenorrhoea Method (LAM). LAM is natural family planning and is around 98% effective (which is equivalent to artificial means). There are some guidelines which are:
- The baby is fully breastfed on demand day and night from birth(no supplements of any kind)
- The baby is younger than six months
- The mother's periods have not returned
You can read more about LAM on the World Alliance for Breastfeeding Action.