Birth Control Pills and Breastfeeding

In general, women who are breastfeeding are advised to avoid taking combined birth control pills. Breastfeeding women should not take oral contraceptives with estrogen and progestin because these hormones may decrease the production and quality of breast milk. Instead of taking combined birth control pills, breastfeeding women should use progestin-only pills because they do not affect breast milk.

Can I Take Birth Control Pills While Breastfeeding?

While a few birth control pills (oral contraceptives) can be taken during pregnancy, most types are not recommended for breastfeeding women. Although many other forms of contraception are appropriate for breastfeeding women, such women often desire the convenience and effectiveness of birth control pills. Therefore, if you would like to take birth control pills while breastfeeding, ask your healthcare provider which pills are best in your situation.

Combined Birth Control Pills and Breastfeeding

Combined oral contraceptives, which contain both a progestin and an estrogen, are the most commonly used type of birth control pill. Although combined oral contraceptives are effective at preventing pregnancy, they are usually not recommended for breastfeeding women. Research suggests that the hormones in birth control pill pass through breast milk in low amounts. Although these amounts are probably too low to cause significant problems, there have been a few cases of problems, such as jaundice and breast enlargement, in babies whose mothers took combined oral contraceptives while breastfeeding.
In addition, combined oral contraceptives may decrease the production and quality of breast milk. It is for this reason that most healthcare providers avoid recommending combined birth control pills for breastfeeding women.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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