I am often asked about the best birth control options for new moms. Many medical professionals believe that right after giving birth, a woman is extremely fertile. However, if a new mom is breastfeeding, this is not necessarily the case. Regardless, if you don’t want to get pregnant soon after giving birth, it is advisable to use some kind of birth control option as soon as possible.
I am not a proponent of the Pill. Its negative effects greatly outweigh any positive benefits. The birth control pill stops a woman’s natural cycle by interrupting the brain’s communication with the ovaries, causing estrogen production to plummet into a menopausal range which creates havoc with the body. By interrupting such natural hormone production, the Pill takes over with synthetic estrogen and progesterone which can cause symptoms of stress, depression, decreased sex drive, hair loss, weight gain, and can even be a cardiovascular risk.
I have been following the birth control issue with my patient base for some years now and have found that when women stop using the Pill, it takes considerable time before ideal levels of estrogen return. Sometimes, it can take up to 18 months! So, if you are on the Pill and desire a child, I would switch right away to a safer form of birth control that preserves your hormone levels. Hormones are our body’s operating system and we need to keep them balanced and healthy.
I highly recommend to my patients of child-bearing age to consider alternative birth control methods. Here are some alternatives-to-the-Pill options that I generally recommend:
Still the go-to method for preventing STDs and pregnancy when used with spermicide. When used properly, the pregnancy rate drops to about 3 percent.
Some disadvantages include that condoms can break. Users also complain that condoms can reduce pleasurable sensitivity as well as dampen spontaneity. Possible allergic reactions to latex can also occur. For these women, I advise that polyurethane condoms should be used instead.
When used with a spermicide, a diaphragm offers up to 95 percent protection against pregnancy. Once you get the hang of it, it is easy to use and has very few side effects. A diaphragm must be custom fit by your doctor.
Disadvantages include that you must leave it in for up to 6 hours after having sex. If you are having sex again more than 3 hours after you inserted it, you need to use more spermicide, which can be inconvenient. Also, diaphragm use may increase the incidence of bladder infections.
For those women who are wary of the efficacy of condoms or diaphragms or frustrated by their inconvenience, the Paragard may be the best option. I like it because it is 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy and does not contain hormones. It also provides long-term protection, lasting up to 10 years. An IUD must be inserted by a doctor.
Possible disadvantages of an IUD may include heavier periods and more menstrual cramps. Also, an IUD does not provide any STD protection.
Fertility Awareness Tracking
This technique can work when used properly. There are numerous methods and products available today to determine when you are ovulating (temperature, cervical discharge, even tracking apps) which is important information to know about your cycle whether you are on birth control or not. Keeping such an eye on your cycles can be very helpful for family planning.
The main drawback of Fertility Awareness Tracking is that many women, as well as medical professionals, do not believe it is highly effective in preventing pregnancy.
— Dr. Prudence Hall, founder of The Hall Center in Santa Monica, California, is a traditional gynecological surgeon and practitioner turned pioneer of regenerative and integrated medicine. She attended USC School of Medicine. A firm believer in probing deeper into the root causes of conditions and diseases, Dr. Hall is dedicated to helping her clients achieve an unprecedented state of health and vitality at any age.