If you’ve been taking the birth control pill and find you’re pregnant, you might wonder whether that could cause the baby damage and if there a possibility that it might result in a miscarriage or stillbirth.
Most research suggests that you don’t need to be concerned. There are some types of birth control that might lead to complications, but, for the most part, with birth control pills or other hormone delivery devices (including the Patch or NuvaRing) is relatively safe.
Birth Control Pill and Birth Defects
According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), there is no proof that taking combination birth control pills or progestin-only tablets while pregnant can harm your baby at all, either by raising the risk of birth defects or inducing pregnancy complications.
It’s important to note that there’s been a lot of research on this particular topic. This is not due to supervision or lack of interest. Medical ethics would not really allow anyone to conduct research that may place a mother or her unborn baby in harm’s way.
Therefore, most of the information is derived from epidemiological research comparing mothers who have used birth control pills through early pregnancy against those who have not. In this aspect, there was little difference in the number of birth defects, miscarriage, or stillbirths between either group.
With that being said, it isn’t suggested that you continue taking birth control if you that you’re pregnant.
In the end, every medication you choose will probably be”taken” by your child, as well. Therefore, in the event that you believe you may be pregnant, have a pregnancy test to know for certain. And, in case you can’t for any reason, consider using other forms of contraception (such as condoms or the sponge) until such time as you can.
The CDC notes that progestins shot in early pregnancy slightly raise the risk of hypospadias in boys (a birth defect where the opening of the urethra isn’t located at the tip of the penis).
The research leading to this decision are older and were mostly of girls taking progestins for infertility or to stop pregnancy reduction rather than the low doses of progestins seen in the current birth control pills.
Birth Control and Miscarriage Myths
Some women think that if they continue to choose the birth control pill while pregnant, they may have a miscarriage. This isn’t true, and there has not been any evidence to suggest that. The hormones in the pill work by thickening into the cervical mucus to prevent sperm entering the uterus, stopping ovulation, and preventing the thickening of the esophageal lining to support implantation. None of these things contributes to a miscarriage or stillbirth.
Another myth is that using emergency contraception (for example, Plan B One-Step or the AfterPill) while you’re pregnant can cause the spontaneous conclusion of your pregnancy. That is again not true. These pills really have no effect after a fertilized egg has implanted.
There are particular medications that can end a pregnancy when wanted. However, these are not considered birth control but a kind of medical abortion. Known as Mifepristone (RU486), the abortion pill has been FDA-approved in the USA since 2000.
IUD and Miscarriage Risk
If you have an intrauterine device (IUD) and become pregnant, there may be complications. Research suggests that if a woman chooses to leave her IUD in during pregnancy, her miscarriage risk increases to around 40 percent. What’s more, it can increase the probability of premature birth by some 500 percent.
With these dangers in mind, you should call your physician immediately to get your IUD removed if you end up pregnant and decide to continue the pregnancy. Taking away the IUD early in a timely manner can mostly undo those risks.
A Word From Verywell
Unintended use of birth control pills through early pregnancy seems to be of low risk.
If you are pregnant, discuss any medications, supplements, and over-the-counter medications with your physician. It’s a good idea to stop birth control once you find you’re pregnant.