Breastfeeding and The Depo Provera Shot
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Breastfeeding and The Depo Provera Shot

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     The Depo Provera shot is a birth control shot.  It is a long term form of contraception.  It contains the ingredient medroxprogesterone acetate which is a synthetic form of a naturally occuring female sex hormone progesterone.  It prevents pregnancy for up to 3 months.  It can be used and is safe while breastfeeding, although women should wait 6 weeks to be given this shot after birth, because the use of the shot prior to the six weeks may decrease milk supply due to the high circulating progestin levels, where the body thinks that it is in a state of pregnancy.  Additionally, the shot causes estrogen levels to decline, which may cause loss of bone mineral density, thus increasing bone fractures later in life.
     As a Lactation Consultant, I would recommend a mom to wait to take this shot for 6 weeks.  Many moms are given the shot within the few days that you are in the hospital after birth.  The reason why I recommend to wait 6 weeks is because your milk supply is well established.  Furthermore, if you exclusively breastfeeding, giving no bottles, you will not ovulate.
     There are additional benefits of the Depo Provera shot.  Many women experience less bleeding during periods.  There is a significant lower risk of cancer of the lining of the uterus and possibly ovarian cancer.  It also helps women with problems due to endometriosis, the growth of endometrial tissue outside the uterus. However,certain levels need to be checked out  as well as a woman's weight because the shot may increase a woman's appetite.  Women who have had gestational diabetes, need to discuss the shot carefully with their doctor.  It is interesting to note that the shot reduces the risk of ectopic pregnancy, a fertilized egg that implants outside the uterus.  Women who have liver disease, blood clots or strokes, gallbladder disease, cancer of the breast or reproductive organs should not use the Depo Provera. Some women should not use the drug Depo Provera if they are allergic to the drug.  ( Some forms of progesterone may contain peanut oil.  So, if you are allergic to peanuts do not use this medicine).  The Depo Provera shot will not protect a women from sexually transmitted infectious so use a condom as well.
     There are a few side effects.  Some of the side effects may include:  irregular periods, vaginal bleeding or spotting between your periods.  Some women stop having their periods while on the Depo Provera shot while other women have longer periods while on the shot during and after the taking the shot.  Other women experience migraines.  Other effects may include:  facial hair growth, nausea, dizziness, mood swings, depression, bloating, difficulty sleeping,backaches, acne and skin rashes to name a few.  Blood pressure and cholesterol levels should be closely monitored while on the shot.
    In conclusion, women who are breastfeeding can safely use the Depo Provera method.  Speak with your doctor about this shot before you give birth.  So you have your birth control method planned out.  Once the shot has been given, the injection cannot be reversed and its side effects will last at least 3 months.  Speak to your doctor first about the dosage that you should us if you have had in the past, heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, seizures, asthma, history of depression or migraines.  You can go to the Emergency Contraception Website  for more info or call 1-888-NOT-2-LATE.  By discussing the pros and cons with your doctor you two together can make an informed decision before you are given the injection.

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