In the immediate postpartum period, birth control is easy. Almost too easy. I’ve discovered the perfect method: simple, cheap, and 100% effective. It’s called abstinence.
Because no woman wants to have sex immediately after giving birth. And usually not for some time after.
But at some point, trying to continue this method can become extremely expensive, because it will cost your happiness and possibly your marriage. So you have to switch to something else. If you’re like me and your babies will never under any circumstances take a bottle or a pacifier, then it’s easy to switch to lactational amenorrhea, which you’re doing anyway. But this method is only reliable when your baby is less than six months old. And even though you know your period (and fertility) is unlikely to return till your baby is closer to 14 months, you don’t want to risk it.
But you’re also not entirely certain that you don’t want any more kids.
So around the time your baby is four months old or so (like Teddy is now), you start thinking what I’m thinking: which type of birth control should you use?
I wish I could convince myself to just go on the mini-pill. I really do. But the idea of polluting our water supply with artificial hormones every time I pee freaks out my inner environmentalist. And the idea of polluting my body with artificial hormones freaks me out even more. My poor body has been through enough. What with pregnancy and childbirth and all. It deserves a break.
So it’s definitely non-hormonal methods for me. My favorite, which goes right along with my organic, natural-living, be-one-with-your-hippie-body mindset, is the Fertility Awareness Method. Which, believe it or not, is actually 98% effective when used perfectly. The trouble, of course, is that there’s a whole lot of room for use error.
However, we’ve used it before successfully (and used it to get pregnant when we wanted to, too). The trouble? It’s impossible to chart when your period hasn’t started yet. And although you can use FAM to watch for signs of returning fertility, it’s easy to miss. Definitely not 98% effective.
So I need a back-up method, at least until I can start charting again.
The copper IUD seems to be the method of choice among my mom friends for non-hormonal birth control. Which sounded great when I first heard about it. Sure, it has to be inserted by a doctor, but that’s okay — I love my doctor. Once it’s done, you don’t have to think about it anymore. And it’s 99% effective.
And then I read the list of common side effects and complications, which includes heavy bleeding, backache, expulsion, perforation of the uterus, and infertility. Seriously? I almost think I’d rather have an accidental pregnancy.
And also? An IUD is a copper and plastic stick that stays in your uterus. Like, forever. Until you have it removed. Why does this completely gross me out? Oh — because it’s gross. And scary and kind of disgusting.
Yeah, accidental pregnancy is looking better all the time.
So that brings me to barrier methods. Male condoms — kind of a pain, and bad for the environment since they’re not reusable. Female condoms — ditto. So I think I’ve narrowed it down to either a diaphragm or a cervical cap. Both of which sound okay. You don’t throw them out, so they don’t create waste; you can get set up in advance, so they don’t interrupt the action (like spontaneity is a priority when you have two young kids, but whatever), and they don’t sound too uncomfortable.
I’ll narrow it down with a talk with my doctor.
In the meantime, all this has brought me to one inevitable conclusion: women get the short end of the stick when it comes to birth control. Somebody should really develop a safe, effective, non-hormonal, reversible birth control method for men. Like yesterday. Actually, if that could be available in the next two months, that would work great for me. Ecological breastfeeding will get me by till then.