Breastfeeding and The Birth Control Pill

Is It Safe Take Oral Contraceptives If You're Breastfeeding?

Breastfeeding And Birth Control Pills: Can You Take Them and Are They Safe?
Birth Control Pills. Ted Morrison/Getty Images

What Are Birth Control Pills?

Birth control pills are a type of prescription medication that is used to avoid pregnancy. Birth control pills contain hormones that affect your reproductive cycle. They can stop your ovaries from releasing eggs, thicken your cervical mucus, and thin out the lining of your uterus. These actions help to prevent a pregnancy from occurring. 

The birth control pill is taken once a day.

When it is taken correctly, the pill is a very reliable method of birth control that can be up to 99% effective.

Birth Control Pills are also known as The Pill and Oral Contraceptives

Can You Take Birth Control Pills If You're Breastfeeding?

Yes, you can take birth control pills if you're breastfeeding. However, there are some things you need to consider before you begin taking this medication. The hormones in birth control pills do pass into breast milk in small amounts. They can affect your baby and your breast milk supply. The type of birth control pill that you choose is very important for the success of breastfeeding.

The Two Types of Birth Control Pills

The Combination Pill: The combination breast control pill contains both estrogen and progesterone (progestin). The estrogen in the combination pill can cause a decrease in your supply of breast milk. It is best to avoid using the combination pill if you're breastfeeding.

However, if you need to use the combination pill, your doctor should prescribe the lowest dose possible. Your milk supply and your baby's weight need to be monitored, and you should be aware that it may be necessary to supplement your child. The combination breast control pill should not be started until six weeks after the birth of your baby.

If possible, hold off on taking the combination pill until your baby is 6 months old.

The Mini-Pill: The mini-pill is a progestin-only medication. Since the mini-pill does not contain estrogen, it is less likely to contribute to a low supply of breast milk. However, it should not be started until 6 weeks after your baby is born. When it is prescribed in the very early weeks postpartum, it is more likely to affect the establishment of a healthy milk supply.

Tips For Using Birth Control Pills When You're Breastfeeding

  • Be sure that your health care provider knows your health history, and that you're breastfeeding, before he or she prescribes any type of birth control pill.
  • Birth control pills should not be started if you are already struggling with a low breast milk supply.
  • Do not start using birth control pills - even progestin-only pills - until at least 6 weeks after childbirth. The hormones in oral contraceptives are much less likely to affect your baby or your breast milk supply after 6 weeks.
  • If possible, do not use birth control pills that contain estrogen.
  • If you have to use the combination pill, take the smallest dose that your doctor can prescribe.
  • Keep an eye on your milk supply when you begin taking the pill.
  • Look for the signs that your baby is getting enough breast milk, and take your baby to the pediatrician for regularly scheduled well visits to be sure that she is growing at a healthy, consistent rate.
  • If, after you begin taking the pill, you notice a decrease in the amount of breast milk that you're producing, notify your doctor immediately.  


See Also: 



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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