Safe contraception during breastfeeding
It is a common myth that breastfeeding is a good form of contraception. In fact, this is only partially true. Breastfeeding does reduce the chances of getting pregnant, but only if the mother exclusively breastfeeds and the intervals are no greater than four hours.
So a woman who doesn't want to get pregnant again right away should use contraception and avoid contraceptive methods that use estrogen, because this hormone reduces milk production.
Here you can find an overview of safe contraceptive methods.
Option #1: Mini pill
Like all hormonal birth control methods, the mini-pill can cause side effects such as headaches and mood swings. It contains only progestin, so it is considered safe for breastfeeding mothers.
As with many other progestin-containing contraceptives, a woman can start taking the minipill six to eight weeks after giving birth. This contraceptive method is between 87 and 99.7 percent effective.
This method has the best success if the user remembers to take the pill every day and at the same time of day to keep hormone levels constant.
There are many preparations available here, such as Illina, Leios, and Leona-Hexal with levonorgestrel, and new-generation mini-pills with desogestrel such as Desogestrel Aristo and Lamuna.
Option #2: IUD
Intrauterine devices (IUDs) are more than 99 percent effective, making them the most effective contraception. IUDs are a form of long-acting reversible contraception. There are two different types of IUDs: hormonal and non-hormonal.
Hormonal IUDs contain progestin, a synthetic form of the hormone progesterone. The hormone thickens the cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the uterus. All available options with hormones provide three to five years of protection.
Non-hormonal IUDs are also available in Germany. They use a small amount of copper to disrupt sperm movement.
Option #3: Barrier methods.
These methods prevent sperm from entering the uterus and fertilizing the egg.
The most popular method is condoms, which come in many varieties.
When used perfectly, condoms are 98 percent effective. This means that a couple uses them every time they have sexual intercourse, really. With typical use, that number drops to 82 percent effectiveness.
Sponge, contraceptive cap or diaphragm.
The sponge is a piece of polyurethane foam that is inserted into the vagina. It prevents sperm from entering the uterus. With typical use, it is 88 percent effective.
A contraceptive sponge contains spermicide, so it not only blocks sperm with a barrier, but also secretes chemicals that immobilize and kill sperm.
A contraceptive cap or cervical cap can be inserted into the vagina up to six hours before intercourse. It is 71 to 86 percent effective.
A diaphragm is a flexible spring ring covered with silicone for insertion into the vagina. It fits over the cervix to prevent sperm from reaching the uterus. A doctor must fit a diaphragm because the cervix changes after childbirth. This method is about 60 percent effective.
Option #4: Implant
A progestin contraceptive implant is 99 percent effective and available by prescription only. This small, rod-shaped device is about the size of a match. A doctor will place the implant under the skin of the upper arm. Once inserted, the implant can prevent pregnancy for up to four years.
Option #5: Contraceptive injection.
The Depo-Provera injection is a long-lasting form of prescription birth control. The injection, which contains the hormone progestin, provides three months of protection at a time. This method is about 97 percent effective.
Option #6: Natural family planning
Finally, there are methods of natural family planning that require very accurate use, whereby a woman closely monitors the length of her cycle and the cervical mucus that comes out of the vagina, and uses a special thermometer to detect temperature spikes that help indicate ovulation.
Now you could learn about the different contraceptive methods for breastfeeding. To find a suitable option for you, it is best to consult your gynecologist.