Can I Take Plan B While Breastfeeding?

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Life doesn’t always go as planned, and sometimes you find yourself needing emergency contraception, otherwise known as “the morning after pill.” This could be because your birth control method didn’t work properly (i.e., your condom broke), you forgot to take your birth control pills, or you had unplanned or unprotected sex for whatever reason.

If you are a breastfeeding parent seeking to use emergency contraception, you might be unsure of what type is safe to take while nursing your little one. Plan B, one of the most popular and widely available emergency contraception options, might have been suggested to you as a possible option. Still, you may be unsure if Plan B is safe for your baby or if it will have a harmful effect on your breast milk or milk supply.

Thankfully, experts are in agreement that Plan B is a breastfeeding-friendly option. As Aaron Lazorwitz, MD, MSCS, an OBGYN at the University of Colorado, explains, Plan B (a levonorgestrel-only emergency contraceptive method), is safe to take while breastfeeding and has not been found to have any negative effects on breastfeeding or breastfed babies. 

“If a breastfeeding woman desires to use emergency contraception and is an appropriate candidate for levonorgestrel-only emergency contraception [Plan B], then I would feel comfortable prescribing this form of emergency contraception to her,” says Dr. Lazorwitz.

What Is Plan B?

There are several different types of emergency contraception medications out there. Plan B is the brand name for a kind of emergency contraception pill with the active ingredient levonorgestrel. Levonorgestrel emergency contraception pills are progestin-only pills and work by inhibiting or delaying ovulation to prevent pregnancy.

Plan B is available at most drug stores or pharmacies, and you don’t need a prescription to purchase it. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) notes that progestin-only pills like Plan B are most effective if taken within 72 hours of unprotected sex. They may have moderate benefits if taken within five days of unprotected sex.

Heather L. Johnson, MD, OB-GYN and managing physician at Reiter, Hill & Johnson of Advantia, explains that Plan B is for occasional use only, in the instances where you’ve had unprotected sex or your birth control method has failed. Plan B should not be used as your main form of birth control.

Additionally, Plan B is not an abortion pill, says Dr. Johnson. It doesn’t work if you have already conceived. Its job is to stop a conception from taking place in the event that you have had unprotected sex and don’t want to get pregnant.

Jessica Madden, MD, IBCLC, pediatrician, neonatologist, and medical director at Aeroflow Breastpumps, says that you may experience side effects after taking Plan B, including nausea, fatigue, vomiting, and breast tenderness. “It’s important to expect this and try to get rest, keep hydrated, and ‘take it easy’ for a day or two after taking Plan B,” Dr. Madden advises.

Considerations for Breastfeeding Parents

Plan B is widely considered to be a safe option for breastfeeding parents to take. LactMed, a National Library of Medicine database that compiles information about medications and breastfeeding, concludes that progestin-only contraceptives like Plan B are safe.

Specifically, LactMed indicates that progestin-only medications do not change the composition of your milk supply, do not decrease your milk supply, and do not have negative effects on the health of your baby. Dr. Madden agrees that taking Plan B while breastfeeding is a good choice if you’re a breastfeeding parent who had unprotected sex and doesn’t wish to be pregnant.

“Based on available information, Plan B can be taken while breastfeeding and there are no known side effects experienced by babies whose mothers take Plan B,” Dr. Madden says.

Additionally, Dr. Madden indicates that there are no major concerns about Plan B decreasing your milk supply. She explains that doctors prescribe progestin-only birth control pills to breastfeeding parents frequently because they are not known to decrease milk supply.

“There’s a small possibility that plan B might impact breastmilk supply since it contains a higher dose of levonorgestrel than OCPs, but for most women, this does not seem to be the case,” says Dr. Madden.

Dr. Lazorwitz says that there is no clear evidence that levonorgestrel-only emergency contraception would decrease a breastfeeding parent’s milk supply.

“Though some isolated studies have reported decreased milk production when levonorgestrel-only emergency contraception is taken while breastfeeding, these findings are not consistent,” he says.

Most importantly, says Dr. Lazorwitz, what studies have found is that babies whose parents take levonorgestrel-only emergency contraception while breastfeeding experience normal growth and development and remain healthy.

Every breastfeeding journey is different. Be sure to consult with a healthcare provider about your circumstances if you have any questions about taking Plan B while breastfeeding.

Safety Precautions

Generally speaking, there are no particular safety precautions you need to take if you use Plan B while breastfeeding since it has no known adverse effects on your baby, your breast milk, or your milk supply.

Dr. Johnson says that some breastfeeding parents choose to “pump and dump” after taking Plan B, but that that isn’t strictly necessary. “There are no data to suggest it may be harmful to a nursing baby,” says Dr. Johnson. The choice about whether to “pump and dump” would be a personal choice and one you can feel free to take if you feel more comfortable doing so.

Although Dr. Lazorwitz agrees that Plan B is safe to take while breastfeeding and that no precautions need to be taken if you end up using it, he does caution that you should refrain from taking levonorgestrel-only emergency contraception too frequently, such as more than one per menstrual cycle.

“If a patient is using levonorgestrel-only emergency contraception multiple times in a single menstrual cycle, I would recommend the patient talk to a healthcare provider about more effective and reliable forms of contraception that are safe while breastfeeding,” says Dr. Lazorwitz.

A Word From Verywell

Dealing with a pregnancy scare is always stressful. Managing this while you are a breastfeeding parent adds an additional layer of stress, because you may feel unsure or confused about what medications are safe for you and your baby.

The good news is that when it comes to emergency contraception, Plan B is a safe and effective option for you. It will not alter your breast milk, decrease your milk supply—and most importantly, it’s safe for your baby.

Of course, if you have any questions about taking Plan B while breastfeeding, you should talk to your doctor, midwife, or lactation consultant. They can answer questions about Plan B, as well as any other contraception questions you may have as a breastfeeding parent.

2 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Emergency Contraception. Updated June 1, 2020.

  2. Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). Oral Levonorgestrel. Bethesda, MD: National Library of Medicine. Updated June 21, 2021.

Additional Reading
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Emergency Contraception. Updated June 1, 2020.

  • Drugs and Lactation Database (LactMed). Oral Levonorgestrel. Bethesda, MD: National Library of Medicine. Updated June 21, 2021.

By Wendy Wisner
Wendy Wisner is a lactation consultant and writer covering maternal/child health, parenting, general health and wellness, and mental health. She has worked with breastfeeding parents for over a decade, and is a mom to two boys.