birth control

Choosing The Right Birth Control: 11 Best Methods You Need To Know

You’ve spent the last good portion of the year baking that precious newborn. Making all types of decisions from how you would diaper him, feed him, where they would sleep and even how you would delivery that little love bug. But you still have one more decision you need to make, and your doctor will make it a point to ask you a million times…. What are you choosing for birth control?

Yes, how are you going to make sure you don’t have anymore tiny humans before you and your partner are ready for that next one. So how do you choose? There’s so many different kinds out there. If you’re breastfeeding, you’re probably concerned with maintaining your supply. You may have heard horror stories of some forms of birth control decreasing mama’s milk supply.

Here’s we’ll talk about the different forms and methods of birth control that are safe for breastfeeding mamas.

What is the best form of birth control?

Now before we begin, let me say this. Any form of hormonal birth control has a risk of decreasing your supply. So the best form of birth control will depend on your needs and what works best with your body. Now let’s chat!

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

The IUD comes in two forms: The Non hormonal Copper IUD and the hormonal IUD. This device is inserted into your uterus through your cervix. Your cervix holds it in place and there are two strings attached that hang from your cervix so that you can do monthly checks.

The non-hormonal copper T IUD works by not using any hormones, but instead it uses copper to prevent pregnancy. The copper acts as a spermicide, preventing sperm from reaching, and fertilizing the egg. Starts working immediately once placed and effective for up to 10 years.

The hormonal IUD uses the synthetic hormone of progesterone-progestin, to prevent pregnancy. Progestin causes the mucous in your cervix to thicken and the lining of your uterus to become thin. This prevents the sperm from reaching and fertilizing an egg. May take a week to start working once it is placed, and effective for 3-5 years.

Effectiveness

<1/100 that use this method become pregnant

Pros of an IUD

  • These are long term birth controls that work 3-10 years where you don’t have to remember to take them on a daily schedule.
  • You can’t feel it once it’s in.
  • IUDs are safe and effective birth control methods.
  • It can be removed at any time.
  • Once removed, your ability to get pregnant should start immediately (Back to your normal before you had the IUD)
  • Can be used as emergency contraception if placed 5 days after unprotected sex.
  • Affordable!

Cons of an IUD

  • May cause a slight decrease in milk supply
  • It does require an office visit for placement
  • You can experience some side effects after placement: cramping, irregular bleeding
  • It does not protect you from contracting sexually transmitted diseases
  • In rare cases, some women have experienced pelvic infections and instances where the IUD moves out of place. Regular self checks are needed.

Birth Control Shot

Also known as the”Depo” shot, this birth control shot is an injection of progestin. It prevents pregnancy by halting the release of eggs from your ovaries. It also causes cervical mucous to thicken while thinning the line of your uterus. This prevents sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg. The depot medroxyprogesterone acetate, also known as Depo Provera, is the most commonly used shot. This is why the birth control shot is well known as the Depo shot. This shot is needed every 3 months to be effective.

Effectiveness

6/100 people that use this method become pregnant

Pros of birth control shot

  • Compared to other forms of birth control, this is easier to manage for some women because you only need to get the shot 4 times a year.
  • You don’t have to think about it before having sex.
  • Safe and effective
  • For many women, it reduces the amount menstrual cycles they have and can lighten the flow.

Cons of birth control shot

  • Can cause decrease in milk supply
  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Prolonged use over 2 years can cause thinning of bones. Once stopped, normal bone growth returns.
  • You must visit a doctors office every 3 months to get the injection.
  • The longer you use the shot, the longer and more difficult it may be to become pregnant when ready.
  •  You may experience the following side effects: spotting /bleeding between periods, weight gain, breast tenderness, nervousness, stomach discomfort, and headaches.
I’ve never gotten the shot. I just couldn’t see myself having to return to the doctors office every few months to get shot(OMG I hate shots. Yet I give them all the time!). Now, from some women that have gotten it I’ve been told they’ve gained weight. Others have not. So this may be something to consider.

Birth Control Implant

Very small, straw like, plastic tube that is inserted into your arm, right beneath the muscle…Holy sh**!! Ouch! It’s ok ladies. They numb the arm first, so the only thing you feel is the sting of the local anesthetic. After that it just feels kind of weird. This is another progestin releasing contraceptive that causes cervical mucous to thicken while thinning the line of your uterus. This prevents sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg. This device needs to be replaced every 3 years.

Effectiveness

<1/100 that use this method become pregnant

Pros of Contraceptive Implant

  • Safe and effective
  • You don’t have to remember to do anything.
  • Affordable
  • Long lasting
  • Easily removed if you want to start family planning.

Cons of Contraceptive Implant

  • May cause decrease in milk supply
  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Requires an office visit for placement.
  • May experience some side effects to include: irregular periods or bleeding, weight gain, breast tenderness, and abdominal pain.
This is an implant I used before I had my third child. This is only my experience so do not take this as the end all be all. Towards the end of my time with the implant I began to have a period that never ended. And when I say never ended, every day I was bleeding. It got to the point where I began to bleed heavily. I was using super absorbent tampons on top of heavy flow napkins and replacing them often throughout the day. I was darn near hemorrhaging. At that time I was in nursing school and spoke with my instructor about my symptoms and we both agreed, I needed to get the device removed immediately. Once removed I decided to let me body regulate before I chose another birth control. The bleeding subsided and I was returning to my normal periods within 2 months…2 months….And I was pregnant with our 3rd🤦🏽‍♀️🤣. So yes, once you get it removed you can start planning your family immediately. What a shock he was.(That’s a whole other story…Hmmm, maybe I’ll tell it to you😉)

Birth Control Pills-Mini pill

Birth control pills are taken orally, meaning, you take them by swallowing them. Some women take birth control pills for other reasons than preventing pregnancy, but right now we’re going to focus on the latter. There are 2 main types of birth control pills, but we’re going to focus on progestin-only pills, which are also known as the mini pill. Like many forms of birth control, these pills work using progestin, which causes the uterus to thin and the cervical mucous to thicken. This prevents the sperm from fertilizing the egg.

Now, here’s the thing with the mini pill. It’s very important to take the pill everyday and within the same timeframe. If you are late taking the pill by more than 3 hours, you must wait to have sex for 2 days and/or use an alternate form of birth control to prevent pregnancy. You also still need to continue taking your pills for those 2 days.

mini pill birth control

Effectiveness

5-9/100 people that use this method become pregnant

Pros of using the mini pill

  • Safe and effective
  • Ease of use
  • Ability to become pregnant returns once you stop taking the pills.
  • You don’t have to think of birth control when in the heat of the moment. It’s already taken care of.

Cons of using the mini pill

  • May decrease milk supply
  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases
  • Requires a prescription
  • Antibiotics can reduce the effectiveness of the pill
  • You must take the pills everyday and within a certain timeframe for them to be effective.

Condoms

Ya’ll know what these are! Specifically, male condoms, are a thin film cover that is placed over the male penis during sexual intercourse. Most commonly made of latex and polyurethane, condoms are used as a barrier to prevent the sperm from entering the vagina and fertilizing the egg. For those that have an allergy to latex, condoms are also made out of lambskin. The latex and polyurethane condoms help to prevent pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases (STDs). Lambskin condoms will prevent pregnancy but not protect against STDs.

condoms as birth control

Effectiveness

18/100 people that use this method become pregnant

Pros of using a condom

  • Does not decrease milky supply
  • Prevents against sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Does not require a doctors visit or prescription.
  • Affordable.

Cons of using condoms

  • One time use. Must use a new one each and every time you have sex.
  • Cause cause irritation for those with latex allergies.
  • Must be used correctly and you must be consistent. Human error can easily cause pregnancy.
  • Limited shelf life (These suckers expire!) They can also be damaged if left in heat .
  • Some may tend to complain about the feeling of condoms.(Don’t fall for the okie doke. No glove, no love).

Withdrawl Method

The withdrawl method is when the male removes his penis from the vagina before he ejaculates. This method prevents the semen from entering the vagina and as such, not allowing it to fertilize the egg.

Effectiveness

20/100 people that use this method become pregnant

Pros of using the withdrawl method

  • Does not decrease milk supply.
  • It’s completely free!
  • No side effects (unless not done correctly, then expect nausea, a growing belly, and a baby in 40 weeks)
  • For those with certain religious preferences, this can be used as an effective form of birth control

Cons of using the withdrawl method

  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
  • It is only as effective as the person doing the withdrawing. It is based off of their judgement alone and they must know when they are about to ejaculate in order to remove their penis in time.
  • Those with less experience of this method are more likely to fail.

Abstinence

This basically means, you don’t have sexual intercourse at all. This means refraining from any and all sexual activity. This method of birth control is the only form that is 100% effective.

abstinence

Effectiveness

0/100 people that use this method become pregnant

Pros of using abstinence

  • Completely free
  • Does not decrease milk supply
    Has no affect on your milk supply
  • Does not require a doctors visit or prescription
  • You control when you want to abstain from sex.

Cons of using abstinence

  • Pressure from family and friends
  • May be difficult if caught “in the moment”.

Natural Family Planning & Fertility Awareness

This type of birth control helps women and couples to be able to recognize the signs of ovulation and detect patterns within their menstrual cycles. By doing this, they are able to better understand their bodies and can plan their sexual activity around their ovulation cycles. During times of fertility you can either opt to practice abstinence or use another form of birth control, like condoms. With fertility awareness, a woman tracks her menstrual cycle, cervical fluid, and basal body temperature: You temperature when you wake up in the morning.

birth control

Effectiveness

25/100 people that use this method become pregnant

Pros of using fertility awareness

  • Will not decrease milk supply
  • Can help to increase awareness of your body and in turn, help when you’re ready to become pregnant as you are able to predict your fertile days
  • No doctor visit required

Cons of using fertility awareness

  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases
  • Can be very difficult if you have an irregular cycle, like many women
  • This method takes time, commitment, and effort
  • Viral infections, antibiotics, and vaginal infections can cause changes in basal temperature and cervical fluid

Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM)

Another form of Natural family planning is LAM. This method is specifically for new mothers who exclusively breastfeed their babies. In order for this method to work, you must only feed your baby breastmilk on demand for the first 6 months of life and you must feed from the breast with no period. Once you introduce solids, you cannot rely on this form and a method of birth control. The way this works is, the baby puts pressure on the mothers nipple that sends a signal to her body to prevent ovulation. This is a temporary form of birth control and it’s very important to meet with your provider to make sure it’s the best fit for you.

Effectiveness

1-2/100 people that use this method become pregnant

Pros of using LAM

  • It’s FREE
  • Does not decrease milk supply. In fact, could help with constant on demand nursing.
  • Can be used immediately after birth.
  • All natural, no substances or foreign objects to be inserted.

Cons of using LAM

  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases
  • Temporary. It only works for the first 6 months postpartum
  • Can become inconvenient at times, especially if you plan to return to work. Only you can feed the baby so you don’t get a “break”
  • If your period starts before 6 months, you must use another form of birth control

Sterilization

Female Tubal Ligation

There are 2 types of female sterilization methods, but we’ll be focusing on one: Tubal ligation A.K.A “getting your tubes tied”. With tubal ligation, your fallopian tubes (The tubes that allow your egg to travel from your ovaries to your uterus for fertilization) are cut, tied, clipped, or some way sealed. This is a permanent method which blocks the fallopian tubes so that the sperm is not able to fertilize the egg. You can have this procedure done at the same time of delivery if you are having a c-section. If you had a vaginal birth, you will need to schedule the procedure with your provider.

Effectiveness

<1/100 people that use this method become pregnant

Pros of using tubal ligation

  • Does not decrease your milk supply
  • Safe and effective
  • Works immediately
  • Recovery is fairly quick
  • Typically no long term side affects

Cons of using tubal ligation

  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases
  • Different circumstances and life changes may cause you to rethink having more children, and in turn, you regretting having the procedure done.
  • In rare instances the fallopian tubes can grow back together. In these cases there is a risk for pregnancy, or, a more life threatening condition called ectopic pregnancy where the egg is outside of the uterus.
  • Risk for infection, bleeding, and pain

Vasectomy

This is a male sterilization procedure that prevents the man’s sperm from traveling to his penis when he ejaculates. This outpatient procedure is done by snipping the vas deferens (the tubes that carry the sperm to the penis), They can be tied or blocked. Now don’t be confused, because after the procedure, a man is still able to produce semen. This semen just doesn’t have sperm anymore. It’s very important to return to your provider 3 months after the procedure for testing, to make sure that there are no sperm present in the semen (Grab that cup and your fav website boys!). This is because it takes 3 months for no sperm to be present anymore. During this time, you will need to use another form of birth control

Effectiveness

<1/100 people that use this method become pregnant

Pros of vasectomy

  • Does not decrease milk supply
  • It’s permanent! One and done.
  • Safe and effective
  • Simple and fast procedure. Very little discomfort
  • Very short recovery time

Cons of vasectomy

  • Does not protect against sexually transmitted diseases
  • Requires a doctors visit and sometimes counseling beforehand
  • VERY rarely, the tubes that carry the sperm grow back together. Risk of pregnancy.
  • Different circumstances and life changes may cause you to rethink having more children, and in turn, you regretting having the procedure done.
  • May cause swelling, bruising, tenderness, and man tears. Similar to the “man flu”, he may be useless for a few days.

Whew! That was a lot of information to take in! But hopefully this list of common birth control methods helps to take a little bit of the stress away from trying to choose between several choices out there. Remember, talk to your provider about any questions or concerns you may have and choose the best method that’s right for you and your family!

What’s my choice? A vasectomy! Listen, I’ve delivered 4 children, 3 of which were c-sections. I’ve done my fair share of being snipped, stretched, and beat up. Dad, it’s your turn!

Did this blog post help you? Let me know in the comments below! If there is a topic you’d like to go over, feel free to drop a line. Can’t wait to talk with you again next week. What’s next weeks topic you ask? Let’s just say, Salt-N-Pepa were experts!

You may also like:

Postpartum Sex-What You Need To Know

Additional Resources

U.S Department of Health and Human Services

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