Q: What birth control pills can I take while breastfeeding?
A: Kudos to you for thinking about birth control. What a lot of new moms don't realize is that even though you may not have regular periods while you're breastfeeding, you can still ovulate -- and end up getting pregnant again sooner than you'd planned. Here's what to know about breastfeeding and the pill.
Most birth control pills are combination pills, which mean they contain the hormone progesterone (which stops ovulation and prevents pregnancy) and the hormone estrogen (which can help regulate your periods and relieve cramps, moodiness, and bloating). However, estrogen has been found to decrease milk production in nursing mothers, so you should avoid combination pills while breastfeeding.
Instead, doctors usually recommend progestin-only pills (sometimes called the "mini pill") for breastfeeding moms. The one thing to keep in mind with these pills is that you need to be more careful about taking them at the same time every day than you do with combination pills. Popping a mini pill just three hours late can raise your chances of getting pregnant -- something that can be tricky for new moms with hectic childcare schedules.
If you don't think the mini pill is for you, there are other effective and safe birth control options, including IUDs, injectables like Depo-Provera, implants like Implanon, or nonhormonal methods like condoms and diaphragms. After you wean your baby, you can switch back to a regular combination birth control pill.
Copyright 2009 Meredith Corporation.