About 6 weeks postpartum, your health care provider will bring up the subject of birth control. Your doctor has your mental and physical health in mind when he talks to you about a birth control method. An unexpected pregnancy can be very difficult if you’re not ready.
There are many birth control methods that are compatible with breastfeeding. Condoms and other barrier methods are safe and effective when used appropriately. But these methods are considered “risky” to many doctors because they rely on patient compliance and errors can occur. More and more doctors, therefore, are encouraging new mothers to use an IUD for birth control.
There is a relatively new IUD on the market, that definitely can and does create problems for breastfeeding mothers. It’s called Mirena. The Mirena IUD releases small amounts of synthetic progesterone over time. Progesterone is the hormone that keeps you from lactating during pregnancy. It follows that progesterone, even a small amount, could cause a reduction in milk supply for a breastfeeding mother.
There is no research that I know of to back up this claim. I only have the experiences of many clients who have had devastating results with the Mirena. I would bet that there are many others who didn’t put 2 and 2 together and just believed that their milk ”dried up” all by itself or because they had returned to work. Since the resumption of birth control and going back to work often occur at about the same time, a mom could assume that being away from her baby most of the day is what caused the drop in milk production. So who knows how many mothers quit breastfeeding because of the Mirena?
So what should you do about birth control? Let your doctor know that breastfeeding is important to you and that you want to avoid risking your milk supply. Explore all options—including barrier methods. Remember that any birth control method is a “back up” method if you are fully breastfeeding and your baby is under 6 months old. . Avoid birth control methods that rely on hormones. Lastly, if you have already instituted birth control that includes hormones, and you are concerned about milk production, please call me for help!
Renee Beebe, M.Ed., IBCLC
206 356 7252