Can I Take Birth Control While Breastfeeding?

Anna T.

You can take birth control while breastfeeding, but most doctors advise taking progestin-only birth control. The progestin-only birth control contains synthetic progesterone without estrogen and is generally considered to be a low-hormone birth control pill. Minute amounts of progestin will probably pass into your breast milk while you use this type of birth control pill, but this small amount will likely not be harmful to your baby. Some women who take progestin-only birth control pills report an increase in the amounts of milk they are able to produce, which would be considered beneficial if you are breastfeeding. Other types of hormone-based birth control, such as those containing estrogen or a combination of estrogen and synthetic progesterone, are not typically recommended during breastfeeding because they might reduce your milk supply.

There are a number of non-hormone based birth control methods women can try while breastfeeding.
There are a number of non-hormone based birth control methods women can try while breastfeeding.

If you don't feel comfortable using hormone-based birth control while breastfeeding, there are other options for birth control you might want to consider. Condoms tend to be very reliable for preventing pregnancy and will not affect breastfeeding. If you don't like the idea of using condoms, you could use a diaphragm, which also prevents pregnancy without affecting breastfeeding. Other options for birth control while breastfeeding include the use of spermicide and permanent forms of birth control, such as vasectomies and tubal ligation. While vasectomies and tubal ligation are nearly 100-percent effective for preventing pregnancy and also do not affect breastfeeding, spermicide used alone may not prevent pregnancy, and some of the spermicide could pass into your breast milk, although this is rare and likely won't harm your baby.

Many doctors advise breastfeeding mothers to take progestin-only birth control pills.
Many doctors advise breastfeeding mothers to take progestin-only birth control pills.

Some women practice natural family planning while they are breastfeeding. This method of birth control has no effect on breastfeeding, but may not be an effective way for you to prevent pregnancy. When you use natural family planning, you attempt to figure out exactly what time of the month you are ovulating and avoid sexual activity during that time. In general, your chances of becoming pregnant are greatly increased while you are ovulating, and pregnancy is much less likely to occur when you are not ovulating. The primary problem with this method is that you may end up getting pregnant if you make an incorrect guess as to when you are ovulating, and it is also a fact that you can become pregnant even if you are not ovulating.

Whether you use any type of birth control while breastfeeding or not, you should keep in mind that breastfeeding alone reduces your chances of becoming pregnant. This is because, while you are breastfeeding, your body may not be releasing eggs every month, and you cannot become pregnant if no egg is released for sperm to fertilize. Many women fail to have regular periods while they are breastfeeding because their bodies are not releasing eggs. Some women rely on breastfeeding alone as a form of birth control, but if you decide to do this, you should consider the fact that it is not a foolproof method. You won't necessarily know right away if your body releases an egg, and if you have unprotected sex during a month when an egg was released, you could easily become pregnant.

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