Eve Espey, MD, MPH
Dr. Eve Espey is chair of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology in the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.

A new study is providing reassurance to new moms that using hormonal IUDs immediately after pregnancy will not affect their ability to breastfeed.

“New mothers have been appropriately concerned that any type of birth control hormone - whether it be in a pill, IUD or Depo shot, - could make it harder to breast feed,” said Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology Chair Eve Espey, MD, who was the senior author of the study.  

The two-year research project was conducted at UNM and University of Utah medical clinics.  In the study, women either received a hormonal IUD within 30 minutes of delivery or else 4-12 weeks afterward during a follow-up visit. 

“People are very emotional about breast feeding.  Those of us who support the practice want to make sure we are not giving a mother something that could impact their ability to breastfeed,” said Espey.

Researchers found the hormonal IUD did not delay when a mother’s milk came in.  They also found the no difference between the two groups after eight weeks of breastfeeding. 

Since most women want to avoid a rapid repeat pregnancy and since those pregnancies hold the potential for worse outcomes for women and babies, effective birth control is important, she said.  

“It can be hard for some mothers to schedule follow-up appointments and many women are attracted to the idea of beginning birth control immediately after delivery for its convenience,” said Espey.

 “What is reassuring about this study is that the amount of hormone released by this type of IUD does not have an impact on women’s continued breast feeding or having their milk come in,” said Espey.  “It means the new mom has one less thing to worry about.”

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The research results were published in an article, “Immediate Postpartum Levonorgestrel IUD Insertion & Breastfeeding Outcomes: A Noninferiority Randomized Controlled Trial,” in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology and are available online. The Society of Family Planning and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Development both provided support for the project.