The Skinny on Getting a Hormonal IUD after Giving Birth
By Sapan Taneja
Good news for any new mom wanting to control whether or how soon there’s another baby on the way: A new study has found getting a hormonal IUD right after giving birth does not affect lactation or breastfeeding.
Traditionally, most physicians suggest women wait several weeks after giving birth before getting a hormonal IUD to ensure its hormones do not interfere with regular lactation, but these findings suggest that delay is overcautious.
“Bottom line, early placement of a hormonal IUD is a safe, long-term birth control method that doesn’t negatively affect women who want to breastfeed their baby,” said study author David Turok, MD, associate professor in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at University of Utah Health.
The team analysed two groups of women; 132 women received a hormonal IUD within 30 minutes of delivery, and 127 women received a hormonal IUD four to 12 weeks after delivery. They found that breast milk did not come later for mothers who had received hormonal IUDs immediately after giving birth compared to women who had received the IUD a few months giving after birth.
Babies born to women in both groups were healthy and thriving, though a limitation of the study is the lack of data on infant outcomes. But the team said this study builds on previous research that has found progestin-only contraceptives – of which hormonal IUDs are one kind — have no adverse effects on breastfed infants’ growth.
“This study shows no difference in breastfeeding outcomes [for women in either group], which is critically important in reassuring women and advocates that a hormonal IUD empowers women to avoid unintended pregnancy and to successfully breastfeed their infants,” said senior author Eve Espey, MD, chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.
The option of receiving an IUD immediately after giving birth is attractive to a lot of women. According to Turok, women are highly motivated to avoid pregnancy immediately after birth and prenatal care presents an ideal time for doctors to offer women long-term birth control.
“New mothers have to juggle the competing priorities of a new or growing family, and it is difficult to schedule postpartum appointments,” said co-author Jessica Sanders, Ph.D., research assistant professor in Obstetrics and Gynecology at U of U Health. “Women are already at the hospital for the delivery and receiving the IUD at this time is more convenient.”
There is one potential downside, however: Early post-birth placement increases the risk of the device becoming dislodged. In 19% of women who had an IUD placed immediately after birth, the device became dislodged (most simply returned for a new one), compared to only 2% of those who waited.
The study was published in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.