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Postpartum Birth Control: Birth Control & Breastfeeding

Question

I gave birth several months ago, and I'm now thinking about resuming birth control. Is it okay to go back on the pill, or should I explore other forms of birth control? I'm breastfeeding my baby and I'm worried that the pill might hurt her.

Answer

This is an important time to consider birth control options. Some women falsely believe that they cannot get pregnant for several months after giving birth.

There are several forms of birth control that are safe to use while breastfeeding. Of course, barrier methods such as a condom used with contraceptive foam have no systemic effects. Other methods include an IUD or diaphragm. It is important to be properly fitted for a diaphragm as your body changes with breastfeeding. A diaphragm may not fit as well or be as effective if you continue to lose weight in the postpartum period. You should be refitted if you lose more than 15 pounds.

There is a birth control pill that's used frequently by breastfeeding mothers -- a progesterone-only pill called Micronor. In fact, it's marketed specifically at lactating women. It doesn't contain estrogen. The downside with this pill is the cost -- it's more expensive than other pills. The other very important aspect that a woman considering this pill should understand is that she must take it within three hours the same time every day. We've all forgotten a pill at night and say to ourselves, "I'll just take it in the morning"--but this is not the pill to do that with. You must take it the same time every day.

When you cease breastfeeding, you can be switched easily to a combination pill that contains both estrogen and progesterone.

The information on this Web site is designed for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for informed medical advice or care. You should not use this information to diagnose or treat any health problems or illnesses without consulting your pediatrician or family doctor. Please consult a doctor with any questions or concerns you might have regarding your or your child's condition.