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Thread: oral contraceptive while nursing 2 yo?

  1. #1

    Default oral contraceptive while nursing 2 yo?

    I realize the general concern that the hormones in an oral contraceptive (birth control pill) can reduce milk supply, and that many breastfeeding moms thus choose other methods of birth control. However, I have had severe menstrual cramps and also severe pain at the time of ovulation in the past - this seemed to be not bad right after delivery but seems to have worsened with time (my periods started again when my daughter was about 4 months old, probably because she slept 6 hour stretches at night then even though we were exclusively BF'ing).

    She is now 2.5 years old, and I need to do something about the pain rather than just take ibuprofen or other anti-inflammatories (I end up needing to take medication for stomach side effects as well thanks to the anti-inflammatories). Oral contraceptives have been great for this in the past (less menstrual cramps, not ovulating thus no ovulation pain). RE: nursing, at the moment I'm getting to the point where I would be happy to be done, but I don't think my daughter is near that point yet. So, if there was a small reduction in my milk supply (which I'm not convinced is a great supply at this time anyway, particularly at the time of my periods I think it's quite low) that led to a gradual weaning I would be ok with that - but I'm just concerned that starting on a oral contraceptive would cause more of a drastic and dramatic reduction in milk supply such that my daughter would be stressed and wonder what was happening.

    so, my question is, has anyone had any experience with going on an oral contraceptive with a 2 year old or older nursling, and what was the effect on your milk supply (ie. drastic reduction, didn't notice any change at all, or somewhere in between)? Was there significant changes in your child's nursing pattern as a result?

    Thanks for any and all replies :-)

    Chloe's mom
    (have been reading/lurking for a while but first post)

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Mar 2006

    Default Re: oral contraceptive while nursing 2 y

    I have not used oral BC while nursing, but I have breastfed while pregnant, which is what oral BC imitates, and it was a dramatic reduction in production. The estrogen simply, for many women, precludes breastfeeding. The other concern is possible hormonal exposure for the nursling. So, I would be very concerned that BCP would destroy supply. I know some doctors say that it doesnt happen, and it doesn't for all women, and it might depend on the formulation.

    I get what you are saying. I have debilitating periods too, when they appear. Fortunately, not many in the last some years, but something I've been thinking about too. Do I consider hormones again to control them, what I did as a teenager and younger woman, or do I do something else, and what would that be?

    I have read that women with excessive estrogen already, called estrogen dominance, seem to have these difficult and painful periods. Might be worth looking into.
    Mama to my all-natural boys: Ian, 9-4-04, 11.5 lbs; Colton, 11-7-06, 9 lbs, in the water; Logan, 12-8-08, 9 lbs; Gavin, 1-18-11, 9 lbs; and an angel 1-15-06
    18+ months and for Gavin, born with an incomplete cleft lip and incomplete posterior cleft palate
    Sealed for time and eternity, 7-7-93
    Always babywearing, cosleeping and cloth diapering. Living with oppositional defiant disorder and ADHD. Ask me about cloth diapering and sewing your own diapers!

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Mar 2010
    Northern Cal.

    Default Re: oral contraceptive while nursing 2 y

    I know that IUDs cause heavier periods for some women, but I have friends with endometriosis who have found an IUD actually really helps their problems. Even an IUD with hormones usually puts out a lot less than you would get from BCPs. Might be something to look into.

    You can call me JoMo!

    Mom to baby boy Joe, born 5/4/09 and breastfed for more than two and a half years, and baby girl Maggie, born 7/9/12.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2006

    Default Re: oral contraceptive while nursing 2 y

    As a pp mentioned, a supply decrease often happens with pregancy. Some moms who have been pregnant with a 2 yo nursling have found that the nursing is really about more than milk and their lo don't really mind that they aren't getting milk. They keep nursing anyway. Others notice that their los wean due to less milk. If you your supply has naturally been decreasing over time anyway, chances are your lo wouldn't be too upset over an additional decrease. A progesterone only pile would be less likely to decrease supply, but I don't know if that would be helpful in your situation. You could always try the pill you usually use and stop it if it isn't working for you and your lo. It sounds like you need some relief for yourself. The hormones themselves aren't generally a concern in breastmilk b/c of their molecular size.
    DS 1/2006 9 lb. 2 oz. 22 in.
    DD 10/2008 8 lb, 2 oz. 20 in.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2011
    Northeast Pennsylvania

    Default Re: oral contraceptive while nursing 2 y

    I tried an oral contraceptive before my daughter was 1-year old and my milk supply plummeted. Luckily when I went off of it I was able to use Fenugreek and Blessed Thistle to build my supply back up. The doctor's office told me that it should have no affect on my supply but it definitely did. Hence we use other methods (not by choice) to not get pregnant at this point.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Jun 2010

    Default Re: oral contraceptive while nursing 2 y

    They make a mini pill that is progestin only and is considered conducive to breastfeeding. I have been on it for two years and it does not seem to affect my supply...maybe it does and I just don't know because I have been on it so long!

  7. #7

    Default Re: oral contraceptive while nursing 2 yo?

    Thanks for all the replies - in the end, I decided to try the minipill (aka Micronor, aka progestin-only pill) and just started on it last week. I don't think my milk supply was the greatest at this point anyway, and had definitely noticed a decrease (or at least an increase in my daughter's frustration while nursing plus more discomfort for me) around the time of my periods - not sure whether my supply has gone down further in the last few days or whether it's something else going on, but my daughter is definitely not happy at the moment (at one point of frustration while nursing she even said "the milk isn't coming out of the na-na's"). Guess we'll see what happens from here on.

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