living: health & wellness

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BIRTH CONTROL POST-BABY
If I’m breastfeeding do I still need to use birth control to avoid getting pregnant?
YES!  Breast-feeding only stops your body from ovulating if you nurse every 4 hours, period.  That means the first time your baby sleeps for 5 hours, you must start using birth-control if you wish to avoid getting pregnant. 

What’s safe to use while you are nursing?

  • Condoms
  • IUD-- Mirena (which has a small localized hormone, can be removed if you want to get pregnant again, good for 5 years)
  • IUD-- Paraguard Copper Coil (no hormones,  should be used if you aren’t planning to become pregnant again, good for 11 to 12 years)
  • Mini-Pill-- this progestin-only (no estrogen) pill thickens the vaginal mucus and therefore creates a barrier for sperm-- it must be taken exactly as directed (on time each day) and has roughly a 96% success rate.

Choosing an IUD
Many women choose an IUD after having a child.  There is a localized estrogen release that is very minimal compared to a regular birth control pill.  Insertion needs to be done at an OB’s office and should be done sooner after birth than later, as the doctor has to open up your cervix to insert it.  It reminds you of labor, hurts a bit, and for the next 24 hours most women I know have been happy to rest. 

I know many women who like their Mirenas, and some who don’t.  My friends and I have had irregular periods and random spotting.  Some of us have lighter periods now.  I had a headache that developed 5 days post-insertion and lasted for 4 days-- it was unreal-- but upon Googling I read about similar experiences.

The Paraguard Copper Coil has no hormones.  Many women report heavier periods after insertion, sometimes taking up to a full year to adjust.  I only know friends who have had it for about a year, so more to come as the years roll on!

MAMMOGRAPHY
When you are in your late thirties you will most likely have what’s called a “baseline mammomgraphy”.   If it’s just your baseline you will be given an appointment about 3-5 months from the time you call.
 
When you change into your gown take everything off the top half of your body (my first time I left my bra and my technician was very amused).  They put little stickers with a metal ball on your nipples as “markers” (which actually make the images look a bit pretty) and then you proceed to lift each breast onto a flat panel of the machine, while you turn your body to the side so you get as close as possible to the machine.  Another flat panel is lowered by the technician which compresses your breast—it’s done slowly and did not hurt, but it was uncomfortable.  When you think it can’t get any tighter it does, and then the tech steps behind the x-ray proof wall and clicks the picture.
 
About 50% of women are called back after their first mammography for further pictures.  There is no way to suggest you won’t be scared.  They usually give you an appointment within two weeks—you can push for one sooner so you don’t have to think about it.
 

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