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Instead of taking a combined oral contraceptive like Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo, breastfeeding women should consider switching to a progestin-only pill. Research shows that the hormones in Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo pass through breast milk. Although these amounts are low, problems could potentially occur in a nursing child who is exposed to Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo.
Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo® (norgestimate/ethinyl estradiol) is a prescription birth control pill that is classified as a combined oral contraceptive. Combined oral contraceptives, which contain both a progestin and an estrogen, are the most commonly used type of birth control pills. Although combined oral contraceptives are effective at preventing pregnancy, they are usually not recommended for breastfeeding women. Even though Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo contains a relatively low dose of hormones, it is still not recommended for women who are nursing.
Research suggests that the hormones in birth control pills pass through breast milk in low amounts. Although these amounts are probably too low to cause significant problems, there have been a few cases of problems (such as jaundice and breast enlargement) in babies whose mothers took other combined oral contraceptives while breastfeeding.
More importantly, combined contraceptives may decrease the production and quality of breast milk. For this reason, progestin-only oral contraceptives (also known as "mini-pills") are almost always recommended instead of combined contraceptives in breastfeeding women. However, progestin-only contraceptive pills are usually less effective than combined contraceptives. As soon as you stop breastfeeding, it may be a good idea to ask your healthcare provider about switching to a combined contraceptive product, such as Ortho Tri-Cyclen Lo.