FRIDAY, Sept. 22, 2017 -- Women who have a hormonal intrauterine device implanted immediately after childbirth can still breastfeed, according to a new study.
There's no reason for women to delay using this type of birth control after having a baby, researchers advised.
"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," study first author Dr. David Turok said in a University of Utah news release. Turok is an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology.
For the study, researchers randomly divided more than 250 women into two groups. One group received a hormonal IUD within 30 minutes of giving birth. The other group received a hormonal IUD between four and 12 weeks after delivery.
The study found that the hormones in the IUD did not delay lactation among the new mothers even if they had received the device immediately after giving birth. Eight weeks after giving birth, all of the mothers -- with and without IUDs -- were breastfeeding equally well.
But there is a downside to early IUD placement: The device is more likely to become dislodged if it's placed right after delivery, the researchers pointed out.
Among the women in the study, 19 percent of those who received an IUD immediately after childbirth lost the device, compared to 2 percent of those who received it several weeks later. But the researchers noted that 71 percent of the women who lost the device got a replacement.
"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 study senior author Dr. Eve Espey.
"We hope this study contributes to improving access to this highly safe and effective long-term contraceptive method," said Espey, chair of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of New Mexico School of Medicine.
Doctors should talk to their patients about long-term birth control during their prenatal care visits, because after delivery women are often interested in birth control, the researchers recommended.
Women are already at the hospital for the delivery, and receiving the IUD at this time is convenient, they added.
The study was published online recently in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services provides more information on IUDs.
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