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Can I Use Birth Control Pills While Breastfeeding?

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Mother nursing baby
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Question: Can I Use Birth Control Pills While Breastfeeding?
Answer: While breastfeeding itself can often suppress ovulation and work as a method of birth control, it is not completely reliable. For all methods of birth control that contain hormones, it is recommended that you wait until you have been nursing for six weeks or longer. This is to make sure that your milk supply is well established, since hormone-based methods can decrease your milk supply.

Birth control pills that use only progestin are often called "mini-pills." They can be very effective as long as you take the pills at the same time each day or night. These pills are considered safe to take while nursing. Some of the progestin does cross over into breast milk, but no harmful effects have been seen. Some mothers see an increase in their milk supply while using this method, while most see no difference, and a few will see a decrease. Other methods using only progestin include Depo-Provera and Norplant.

Pills that use a combination of hormone contain estrogen. Again, the estrogen does cross into breast milk, but harmful effects have not been seen in babies. The harm here lies in your milk supply. A large number of mothers taking combination type pills see a marked decrease in milk, which could sabotage your breastfeeding relationship. So it is not recommended that breastfeeding mothers use these or other similar forms such as the NuvaRing or patch.

Overall, the best birth control choice for breastfeeding mothers is not one of these hormonal methods, but if you must choose between the two types, you and your child would be better off if you choose a progestin-only course.

For more information on types of birth control for postpartum and nursing moms see:

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