Can you breastfeed after taking the morning after pill?

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What kind of person finds themselves seeking emergency contraception? Anyone with a uterus who wants to try and prevent unplanned pregnancy!

Having one child doesn’t mean you’re ready for, or even want, another. In fact, if you have a newborn baby another pregnancy may well be the last thing on your mind.

So what happens if you experience contraceptive failure or have unprotected sex when you have a child of breastfeeding age? Can you take the morning after pill while breastfeeding?

We spoke to Sim Sesane**, a nurse from Marie Stopes UK, to get the answers to these questions.

The morning after pill and breastfeeding

The first thing you need to know is that there are two types of emergency hormonal contraception.

One is ulipristal acetate, the main ingredient of the most effective morning after pill ellaOne*. The other levonorgestrel, a common hormone found in birth control pills.

“Levonorgestrel is ok to take while breastfeeding,” says Sim, “although small amounts of the hormones in the pill may pass into your breast milk, it’s not thought to be harmful to your baby.” says Sim.

So what about breastfeeding after taking ellaOne? “The safety of ellaOne during breastfeeding isn’t yet known. The manufacturer recommends that you don’t breastfeed for one week after taking this pill. During this time, it is recommended that women express and discard the breast milk in order to stimulate lactation,” Sim explains.

If you choose to use ellaOne, we recommend you discard breast milk for seven days after taking the pill.

Does breastfeeding stop you getting pregnant?

You may have heard that breastfeeding acts as a natural contraceptive, but is that true and how long does it last?

If you breastfeed exclusively, you are unlikely to have a period while your baby is under 6 months old.

Because of this, some women and people who can get pregnant use breastfeeding as a natural contraceptive – known as the Lactational amenorrhoea method (LAM).

When used correctly, less than 2 in 100 will become pregnant.

It is possible to get pregnant before you have a period, however, because ovulation often occurs around two weeks before. The best way to avoid pregnancy after giving birth is to use a form of contraception, such as condoms.

Can you breastfeed while you're taking the contraceptive pill?

Can you take birth control while breastfeeding a child and how soon after giving birth can you start taking your contraceptive pill?

“You can breastfeed while taking the contraceptive pill. You can use the progestogen-only pill at any time after giving birth. It is recommended to wait six weeks after giving birth to take the combined oral contraceptive,” Sim says.

How soon after giving birth can you get pregnant again?

Whether you’re eager to have another child as soon as possible or you want to avoid another pregnancy, you may be curious about how soon you can get pregnant after giving birth.

“It is possible to get pregnant 21 days after childbirth unless women are fully breastfeeding,” says Sim.

If you are not breastfeeding or if you’ve started having periods again, you may want to think about contraception. There are many options to choose from, including barrier methods like condoms, birth control pills and long acting contraceptives (LARCS) like the IUD and the implant.

‘There’s still a lot of assumptions made about emergency contraception, but remember that the morning after pill is an option available to anyone, at any point in their life, if they want to try and avoid unplanned pregnancy. ’

It doesn’t matter if you have zero or six children: you are not obligated to have any more if that’s not what you want. All that matters is that you make the choice that you feel is right for you.

We hope you found this information useful and you feel more empowered to make an informed decision. Check our our ‘Ask Ella’ series for more expert-led articles about sex, contraception and the morning after pill. Have a question we haven’t answered yet? Get in touch on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook and let us know!

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**The medical professionals featured in this article do not endorse any products or brands.

ellaOne® 30mg film-coated tablet contains ulipristal acetate and is indicated for emergency contraception within 120 hours (5 days) of unprotected sex or contraceptive failure. Always read the label.