ARE AR­TI­FI­CIAL HOR­MONES BAD FOR YOUR BABY?

Your Baby & Toddler - - Baby Files -

Re­searchers have iden­ti­fied no short- or long-term detri­men­tal ef­fects. One study fol­lowed chil­dren whose moth­ers took hormonal con­tra­cep­tives dur­ing breast­feed­ing for 17 years. Nev­er­the­less, lac­ta­tion ex­perts rec­om­mend stick­ing to non­hor­monal meth­ods, at least dur­ing ex­clu­sive breast­feed­ing, which should ide­ally last six months.

NAT­U­RAL FAM­ILY PLAN­NING (NFP)

NFP en­tails ab­stain­ing from sex dur­ing your fer­tile pe­ri­ods, which you iden­tify by care­fully mon­i­tor­ing your body tem­per­a­ture and cer­vi­cal mu­cus. When prac­tised con­sci­en­tiously, NFP is 91% to 99% ef­fec­tive. How­ever, both part­ners must un­der­stand the method and com­mit to ab­sti­nence when nec­es­sary. Recog­nis­ing your fer­tile pe­ri­ods dur­ing breast­feed­ing may be tricky: lac­ta­tion hor­mones al­ter the cer­vi­cal mu­cus and bro­ken nights could mess with your basal tem­per­a­ture.

BAR­RIER METH­ODS

Con­doms, di­aphragms and cer­vi­cal caps (with or with­out sper­mi­cide) do not af­fect breast­feed­ing and are gen­er­ally con­sid­ered ef­fec­tive when used cor­rectly.

You may ex­pe­ri­ence vagi­nal dry­ness dur­ing breast­feed­ing due to low oe­stro­gen lev­els. Con­doms could make mat­ters worse, so be sure to stock up on lu­bri­cant. Stick to wa­ter-based prod­ucts like Ky-jelly – oils (such as co­conut and baby oil) could dam­age la­tex con­doms. Ask your doc­tor to pre­scribe an oe­stro­gen cream if need be.

NON-HORMONAL IN­TRAUTER­INE DE­VICES (IUDS)

An IUD is a small, flex­i­ble, T-shaped de­vice that is placed in­side the womb. There are two types: non-hormonal (also called a Cop­per T) and hormonal (Mirena). Both hin­der sperm move­ment, which pre­vents con­cep­tion as well as im­plan­ta­tion. Hormonal IUDS might go a step fur­ther and pre­vent ovu­la­tion.

Nurs­ing moms should prefer­ably use non-hormonal de­vices. Th­ese of­fer ef­fec­tive, re­versible, long-term con­tra­cep­tion with­out af­fect­ing milk pro­duc­tion or com­po­si­tion.

Get your tim­ing right: An IUD should be in­serted ei­ther within two days af­ter birth or af­ter six weeks. This re­duces the slight risk of the uterus be­ing punc­tured or ex­pelling the de­vice. The prob­lem with pro­ges­terone? It can lower your milk sup­ply. In fact, dur­ing preg­nancy this hor­mone, se­creted by the pla­centa, is re­spon­si­ble for pre­vent­ing full-scale milk pro­duc­tion. Af­ter birth, when the uterus ex­pels the pla­centa, a new mom’s pro­ges­terone lev­els drop sharply. This change trig­gers lac­ta­tion.

It makes sense to avoid syn­thetic hor­mones un­til your milk sup­ply is well es­tab­lished. Af­ter six to eight weeks, pro­ges­terone rarely in­ter­feres with breast­milk pro­duc­tion. To en­sure you are not one of the un­lucky few, take the mini-pill for a month while keep­ing an eye on baby’s weight. Is he still thriv­ing? If not, stop tak­ing the tablets. See how much sim­pler that is than re­mov­ing an IUD or im­plant? The pro­ges­terone in­jec­tion is even worse, as the ef­fects can last up to a year. The big­gest draw­back of the mini-pill is that it needs to be taken around the same time ev­ery day. If you tend to be for­get­ful, an IUD might be your safest, most breast­feed­ing-friendly bet. Th­ese de­vices re­lease pro­ges­terone di­rectly into the womb’s lin­ing, which means that min­i­mal amounts reach the breast­milk. YB

FOR AS LONG AS YOUR NURSEL­ING FRE­QUENTLY EMP­TIES YOUR BREASTS, YOUR BODY WILL AS­SUME THAT YOU ARE HIS SOLE FOOD SOURCE

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