Breastfeeding and Birth Control: The Mini-Pill

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What is The Mini-Pill?

The mini-pill is a type of birth control pill. It's a hormonal method of oral contraception that is taken daily to prevent pregnancy. The mini-pill contains the hormone progestin, a form of progesterone. This hormone causes the cervical mucus to become thicker so that sperm is not able to swim through the cervix. If the sperm cannot reach the egg, pregnancy cannot occur. In some women, the progesterone in the mini-pill also stops the eggs from leaving the ovaries (ovulation).

Can You Take The Mini-Pill If You're Breastfeeding?

The mini-pill is a progestin-only form of contraception, so it is a preferred method of hormonal birth control for breastfeeding women. Unlike the combination pill, which also contains estrogen, the mini-pill is less likely to decrease your supply of breast milk.

The mini-pill is also a good option if you want to try out a shorter acting progestin-only method. Once you feel comfortable that the progestin is not affecting your milk supply, you can then switch to a longer acting progestin-only method such as the injection, the implant, or the hormonal IUD. However, if you do notice a decrease in your milk supply, you can stop the pill immediately and the progestin will leave your body more quickly compared to the longer-acting methods.

Tips For Using The Mini-Pill

  • Tell your doctor that you're breastfeeding before starting the pill.
  • Be sure that your doctor knows your health history before she prescribes any type of birth control.
  • Take the pill at approximately the same time each day.
  • Do not use the mini-pill if you have a history of breast cancer.
  • Do not start taking the pill if you are already struggling with a low milk supply. Try a non-hormonal method of birth control instead.
  • Do not begin taking the mini-pill until at least 6 weeks postpartum. The hormones in oral contraceptives are much less likely to affect your baby or your milk supply after 6 weeks.

Advantages of The Mini-Pill

  • When taken correctly, the mini-pill is a highly effective method of birth control.
  • It is safe for breastfeeding women.
  • It is easy to use.
  • It has fewer side effects than the combination pill.
  • If you notice a decline in your milk supply, the pill can be easily stopped.
  • The pill does not interfere with your ability to get pregnant again in the future.

Disadvantages of The Mini-Pill

  • It must be taken at about the same time each day or it will not be effective.
  • Oral contraceptives should not be started before 6 weeks postpartum. If you are not breastfeeding exclusively and you resume a sexual relationship before you begin taking the pill, you can become pregnant.
  • When taking birth control pills you may experience side effects. Some of the common side effects include weight gain, nausea, headaches, breast tenderness, and irregular menstrual bleeding.
  • The birth control pill does not provide protection against STD's.
  • Birth control pills tend to be more expensive compared to other methods of birth control.


Briggs, Gerald G., Roger K. Freeman, and Sumner J. Yaffe. Drugs in Pregnancy and Lactation: A Reference Guide to Fetal and Neonatal Risk. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, 2012.

Callahan, T., and Caughey, A. B. Blueprints Obstetrics and Gynecology Sixth Edition. 2013. Lippincott Williams & Wilkins.

Hale, Thomas W., and Rowe, Hilary E. Medications and Mothers' Milk: A Manual of Lactational Pharmacology Sixteenth Edition. Hale Publishing. 2014.

Lawrence, Ruth A., MD, Lawrence, Robert M., MD. Breastfeeding A Guide For The Medical Profession Seventh Edition.  Mosby. 2011.

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