Some people might assume that getting pregnant while taking birth control isn’t possible. And well, this just isn’t true. Birth control is between  91% – 99% effective when it is used with perfect use. Although it has high rate of effectiveness, there are many ways that a woman can become pregnant without intending to.

So, what happens if you take birth control while pregnant? Is the birth control harmful to the baby or mother? Let’s find out below and discuss some of the reasons that you may become pregnant while taking birth control.

Reasons That You May Become Pregnant

Birth control pills are intended to lower the risk of pregnancy, and some women choose to use the medication to treat certain symptoms of menstruation. For example, some hormonal birth control can be used to regulate periods, reduce acne, and treat symptoms of PMS. Whatever the reason may be to take birth control, there’s always a chance that pregnancy may occur while taking the medication. Not all birth control methods have the same effectiveness, so you should always check the prescription label to find out how effective the birth control is.

Birth control failure can occur for many different reasons and can lead to an unintended pregnancy. So, if you’re wondering what happens if you take birth control while pregnant, you should first know the most common reasons that a woman can get pregnant while taking birth control. They are:  

Missing a dose of birth control – this is especially true for progestin only birth control, which needs to be taken every 24 hours. If a dose is missed or taken at a different time, the body receives an inconsistent level of hormones and may lead to pregnancy.

Vomiting – nausea and vomiting may occur if a woman becomes ill. If a woman experiences vomiting while taking oral contraceptive, there is a chance that the medication may come back up and the hormones will not be absorbed into the body.

Medications interfering – other prescription medication may counter the effects of birth control and reduce its effectiveness. If you’re taking any form of medication, ensure that your doctor knows before you start taking the birth control.

Improper storage – birth control needs to be stored in a dry place at room temperature (between 68 – 77 degrees). If it is exposed to either hot or cold conditions, the chemical makeup of the medication can be altered and reduced its effectiveness.

If any of these instances occurs and you have unprotected sex during this time, your chance of pregnancy increases.

What Harm Will Birth Control Cause to An Unborn Baby?

So, what happens if you take birth control while pregnant? Taking birth control in the early stages of pregnancy doesn’t appear to increase the risk of birth defects in unborn babies. The exposure from the hormones in birth control is not known to cause any birth defects or increase the chance of miscarriage. So, you shouldn’t be concerned if you kept taking your birth control because you didn’t know you’re pregnant.

If you think there’s a chance that you may be pregnant, take a home pregnancy test as a precaution. If the test is positive, stop taking the birth control immediately and visit your doctor.

Can I Use Birth Control While Breastfeeding?

Once a woman has become sexually active again after childbirth, couples should start thinking about a what method of birth control to use while breastfeeding. As we’ve discussed already, there is little risk involved with taking birth control during the early stages of pregnancy, but is there any risk to the baby while breastfeeding?

There is little evidence supporting that using birth control while pregnant causes problems. Something to keep in mind is that combination birth control containing estrogen may reduce milk supply and can cause blood clots. For this reason, your doctor will most likely prescribe a progestin-only birth control while breastfeeding.

If you’re still concerned and wondering what happens if you take birth control while pregnant, you should speak with your doctor to find out the possibility of there being any complications with your baby.