Can You Take Plan B While Breastfeeding? Experts Weigh In
Because another baby isn’t in the plans just yet.
In the midst of late-night feedings, too little sleep, and not enough coffee, you and your partner may have miraculously managed to squeeze in some sexy time. But whether it was a hazy, heat-of-the-moment romp in the sack or an unreliable condom, perhaps you wake up the next morning and realize your intimate moment could lead to baby number two — and you’re not quite ready for that yet. You reach for the morning-after pill, but then remember your breastfeeding babe, and as with too much broccoli and caffeine, you consider everything you put into your body these days. So, can you take Plan B while breastfeeding?
Is it safe to take Plan B while breastfeeding?
"Yes, contraception is safe and effective to take when you are breastfeeding," Dr. Nicole Scott, M.D., an OB-GYN at Indiana University Health, tells Romper. "That said, it may cause some irregular bleeding, but, generally, it is safe."
As with taking Plan B at any time, the pill will likely affect you physically in some way, but not in any way that will impact your baby or hinder breastfeeding. “Plan B contains levonorgestrel, which is a synthetic version of progesterone, a hormone that is found in a woman's body,” Dr. Renita White, M.D., FACOG, a board-certified OB-GYN at Georgia Obstetrics and Gynecology, tells Romper. “The most common side effects are irregular bleeding and nausea.”
In addition to Plan B One Step, White explains that some other forms of emergency contraception are also safe to take while breastfeeding. “This includes ulipristal and the copper IUD,” White says. “The CDC lists these forms of emergency contraception as safe options for breastfeeding people. There are no documented risks to the mom or her baby.”
Will Plan B affect milk supply?
The reason this questions comes up is because some forms of birth control may temporarily decrease milk supply. As White explains, however, progestin-only contraception, such as Plan B One Step, does not affect milk supply or alter milk quality. “There should be no side effects for the baby,” she says.
Other methods of contraception can have an effect, though. “Though all forms of birth control are safe with breastfeeding, estrogen-containing methods (like combined contraceptive pills, the patch, and the ring) can lead to a decrease in milk supply,” says White. “In general, taking progestin-only methods (like Depo-Provera, IUD, Nexplanon) and hormone-free options (like Phexxi and Paragard IUD) do not affect milk supply.” Similarly, progestin-only emergency contraception, like Plan B, won’t have an effect on milk.
Other forms of birth control while breastfeeding
In general, it’s recommended to use emergency contraception only as a last resort, as opposed to a dependable form of birth control — and that goes for whether you are breastfeeding or not. For the long haul, consider a more reliable form of birth control, specifically one that is a progestin-only or hormone-free option if you are nursing a baby or plan on breastfeeding in the future. In addition to options such as copper and hormonal IUDs, Depo-Provera shots, Nexplanon, and Phexxi, you can also go “au naturel” by using the lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) and relying on a lack of ovulation to prevent pregnancy.
LAM, which essentially uses breastfeeding to prevent ovulation and thus serve as a form of birth control, is considered to be as effective as hormonal contraceptives when done properly. According to Planned Parenthood, only about two out of 100 people who use LAM get pregnant in the six months that it can be used after a baby is born. That’s the kicker, though: While very effective, it comes with a lot of guidelines you have to follow to a T for it to work, including that it can only be done during your baby's first six months and only if you breastfeed every four hours during the day and every six hours at night, as certified lactation consultant Danielle Spradlin previously told Romper.
“When my clients ask about breastfeeding as birth control, I stress the importance of following the rules: exclusive breastfeeding, no pacifiers, no sleeping long stretches, no return of menses,” said Spradlin. “This is a very small number of mother-baby pairs who will meet the criteria.”
Regardless, there are a lot of contraceptives that are safe to choose from when you are breastfeeding, be it an emergency one like Plan B or not. And if you do have additional questions or concerns, reach out to your doctor for some more personalized medical advice. But, seriously, let’s get back to the fact that you hopped back in the sack. Between feeling exhausted, maxed out on touching, and simply not feeling body confident, sex can be an adjustment post-baby. And for that, I bow my head to you.
Dr. Nicole Scott, M.D., OB-GYN at Indiana University Health
Dr. Renita White, M.D., FACOG, board-certified OB-GYN at Georgia Obstetrics and Gynecology
Danielle Spradlin, certified lactation consultant
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