IUD’s and Milk Supply

About 6 weeks to 2 months postpartum, your health care provider will bring up the subject of birth control. Even though sex may be the farthest thing from your mind! Your doctor has your mental and physical health in mind when he talks to you about a birth control method. It can be devastating emotionally and physically to get pregnant again before you are ready.

There are many birth control methods that are compatible with breastfeeding and have absolutely zero risk of harming milk production. 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. But I have stories from breastfeeding moms.  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 easily assume that being away from her baby for 8 hours per day is what caused the drop in milk production. So who knows how many mothers quit breastfeeding because of the Mirena? I believe the number is much, much larger than is reported.

Margie called me because her milk supply had plummeted to practically nothing. Her baby could not breastfeed, but she had been pumping since his birth so she has always known exactly how much milk she produced.

After Margie’s milk came in, she was able to pump 4 ounces every 2 hours—with a hand pump! She continued pumping regularly and always had more than her baby could eat. When her baby was 2 months old, her doctor recommended the Mirena IUD. She agreed that it sounded like a good birth control method for her. She noticed a gradual, slight dip in her milk supply within a week. She thought maybe it was because of the hand pump, so she tried a professional grade pump. Her supply continued to decrease, so she rented a hospital grade pump. There was no improvement. A mere six weeks after the IUD was inserted, her milk supply had practically vanished—down to 2 oz per day. She had the IUD removed.

Maggie is now working hard, with my guidance, to increase her milk production. There is no doubt in her mind (or mine) what caused her supply to plummet. It makes me sad that anyone would have to go through what she has gone through. Especially since it was completely avoidable.

So what should you do about birth control? Talk to your doctor about options. Let him know that breastfeeding is important to you and that you want to avoid risking your milk supply. Explore all options—keeping in mind that any birth control method is largely a “back up” method if you are fully breastfeeding and your baby is under 6 months old. . Avoid any birth control method that relies on hormones. Remember that you will be breastfeeding for a relatively short period of time in your child’s life. The Mirena and other hormonal methods may be a good choice for you when your baby is older and is not reliant on your milk for nourishment. Lastly, if you have already instituted birth control that includes hormones, and you are concerned about milk production, please call me for help!

Note: Many breastfeeding mothers use the Mirena IUD with no noticeable effect on breastfeeding. Unfortunately, it’s impossible to predict how an individual mom’s milk supply will react to the introduction of progesterone.

See also, “Breastfeeding and Fertility”   This link will take you to the latest version of my blog and website.  I hope you enjoy the new look!

Advertisements

Tags: , , ,

5 Responses to “IUD’s and Milk Supply”

  1. Kendra Says:

    I was aware of this risk, but took the plunge anyway. It worked out for me and I wonder if it helped that I waited until 5 or 6 months post partum.
    Luckily my insurance covered it with just a copay- I can’t imagine having to pay all or a portion of the IUD and then having to get rid of it!

    • Renee Beebe Says:

      Yes, good point about the cost. not to mention the ordeal of having it removed! Thanks for writing about your experience. And I agree, that waiting longer may help.

  2. Dorcas Soda Says:

    It worked ok for me. My child is still nursing and is 23 months old. I never was able to pump much even with my first two children and I was not on any hormonal birth control at that time.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: