Help me decide
July 20, 2010 8:43 AM   Subscribe

What have your experiences been with the combination birth control pill (or the progestin-only pill) while breastfeeding? Did it affect your milk supply?

For several years, I took the combination (estrogen/progestin) birth control pill. I was very happy with it. When I went off the pill last year to get pregnant -- and then did get pregnant -- my skin just went crazy. Acne all over my back, face, and chest. My dermatologist gave me a topical antibiotic, but it wasn't that effective. My skin is really affecting my self-esteem, and often I just hate to look in the mirror. I already have scars developed on my back from this round of acne.

Now my baby is six weeks old, and I have my post-partum doctor's appointment today. My husband and I do not want another child -- not now and not in the future. The doctor already gave me a prescription for the mini pill (progestin only), but I know that it's not as effective as the combination pill, and I'm assuming it will not have the same effect on controlling my acne. One of the doctors in the group I go to said that she prefers to prescribe the combination pill because it's much better at preventing pregnancy. I don't know the opinion of the doctor I'm seeing today.

My biggest fear about the combination pill (and even the mini pill) is that my milk supply will decrease. I've researched online, and both anecdotal evidence and scientific studies don't seem to point to a single answer. doesn't paint a rosy picture. I'd like to hear some personal experiences. What did the combination pill (or mini pill) do to your supply? If it starts to affect it, can I just stop the pill and expect my milk to go back to normal? I have a great supply right now and can pump 4-5 oz. at a time. I am planning to breastfeed for one year.
posted by trillian to Health & Fitness (9 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Almost everyone I know gets an IUD post-partum.
posted by k8t at 8:49 AM on July 20, 2010

I was on the minipill while breastfeeding, twice. It didn't affect my supply in the slightest, I was a breastfeeding champion. This is the part of my answer which directly addresses your question.

What the minipill did affect was my moods, to a pretty upsetting degree. After my first pregnancy I was treated for post-partum depression with medication, but it wasn't until I went off the minipill, in anticipation of trying to get pregnant again, that I miraculously felt like my old self again.

When I had the same mood problems after the second child and using the minipill a second time (supposedly a different one than before), we said "fuck it" and used condoms until the kid weaned herself. For the sake of comparison, I have never had any mood problems with any other type of hormonal birth control: other pills, Depo-Provera, and now the Mirena IUD. Just that damn minipill. I know you're not asking about other experiences with this type of birth control, but I thought I'd throw it in as a data point, in case you decide to try the minipill and notice anything unusual about your mental state afterward.
posted by padraigin at 9:01 AM on July 20, 2010

I'm guessing the IUD would be a good option for you for contraception, but probably not for the acne. Now, if for the short term you're most concerned about preventing pregnancy and keeping your milk suppy, go with an IUD (probably Mirena, because it sounds like you tolerate hormones just fine and the copper IUD (Paragard) has some side effects you might not like).

However, if you really want to address your acne now, you may need to go back to the combination pill and, yeah, the chances of it affecting your milk supply are pretty good.
posted by devinemissk at 9:04 AM on July 20, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you for the answers so far! I should add that what I also like about the pill I used to take is that it makes my period lighter and it helps me know exactly when I'll get my period each month. Oh, and it makes my cramps/PMS almost nonexistent.
posted by trillian at 9:14 AM on July 20, 2010

Best answer: My only problem with the minipill while breastfeeding was that with a baby I was not organized enough to take it at the same time every day. It didn't affect my milk and I didn't have the mood swings. But I gave up and used alternative methods of birth control because I just wasn't organized enough. (I didn't get my period for seven or eight months while breastfeeding, btw, so didn't attempt the minipill until then ... but in terms of the periods sucking, you may have a break from that for a while anyway.)

I can't speak to the skin issues, my skin apparently liked my pregnancy and breastfeeding hormones better than it liked my usual ones.
posted by Eyebrows McGee at 9:35 AM on July 20, 2010

Best answer: I took the minipill while breastfeeding, after taking a combination pill for about 15 years. It didn't affect my supply at all, right up until my baby decided to stop nursing a bit after she turned one.
posted by gaspode at 10:20 AM on July 20, 2010

Nthing that pregnancy and BFing totally changed my skin for the better. You may not need what you had in the past.
posted by k8t at 10:29 AM on July 20, 2010

Best answer: I used the minipill, and it did decrease my supply, I went from pumping 4 oz to 2oz within the first month. My supply rebounded fully once I stopped taking the pill, with the help of oatmilk, tea and some other herbs that the midwife recommended.
posted by Nickel Pickle at 11:06 AM on July 20, 2010

Best answer: The minipill decreased my supply & made me feel like I was going crazy. (Every hormonal BC I've tried makes me crazy, though, so YMMV.) When I stopped taking it, my supply went back up again.
posted by belladonna at 4:25 PM on July 20, 2010

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