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Nortrel and Breastfeeding

Combined oral contraceptives (including Nortrel) are not usually recommended for women who are breastfeeding. Nortrel can decrease the production and quality of breast milk and may also cause problems in a nursing infant (such as jaundice or breast enlargement). If you are taking Nortrel and breastfeeding or thinking of breastfeeding, make sure to talk to your healthcare provider about the best contraceptive for your situation.

Is Nortrel Safe During Breastfeeding?

Nortrel® (norethindrone and ethinyl estradiol) is a prescription birth control pill. There are two basic types of birth control pills -- combined oral contraceptives and progestin-only contraceptives. There are three different types of Nortrel (Nortrel 0.5/35, Nortrel 1/35, and Nortrel 7/7/7), all of which are classified as combined oral contraceptives. Combined oral contraceptives are not the best choice for women who are breastfeeding.

What Will Happen If I Take Nortrel While Breastfeeding?

Research indicates that the hormones in birth control pills do pass through breast milk in low amounts. These small amounts are probably too low to cause significant or long-lasting problems in breastfeeding infants. There have been cases of problems (such as jaundice and breast enlargement) in babies whose mothers took certain types of combined oral contraceptives while breastfeeding.
Combined oral contraceptives (such as Nortrel) are the most popular type of birth control pills used today. They are easy to take and very effective at preventing pregnancy. However, combined contraceptives may decrease both the quality and the quantity of breast milk. For this reason, healthcare providers almost always recommend progestin-only oral contraceptives (also known as "mini-pills") instead of combined contraceptives for women who are breastfeeding. However, progestin-only contraceptive pills are usually much less effective than combined oral contraceptives. As soon as you stop breastfeeding, it may be a good idea to ask your healthcare provider about switching from a progestin-only pill to a combined contraceptive pill (such as Nortrel). Of course, there are other types of birth control (other than birth control pills) that are also appropriate for women who are breastfeeding.
Last reviewed by: Kristi Monson, PharmD
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