"Growing up, it was ingrained in me that if you don't have as many kids as you're able to, that there's something wrong with that," she tells PEOPLE

By Emily Strohm
October 21, 2020 03:00 PM
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Jill (Duggar) Dillard recently shocked fans when she revealed that she uses birth control, a move not condoned by her ultra-religious family, and now the former TLC star is opening up about her surprising decision.

"Growing up, it was ingrained in me that if you don't have as many kids as you're able to, that there's something wrong with that," Jill, 29, tells PEOPLE in this week's issue. "But there was a shift in me where I felt like it wasn't wrong if you decide as a couple that it's best for you to wait."

Jill shares sons Israel David, 5, and Samuel Scott, 3, with husband Derick Dillard, whom she wed in 2014. After giving birth to her first child via C-section in 2015, her doctor recommended she wait 18 months to get pregnant again.

"Children are a blessing, but that doesn't mean that at all costs you should have as many kids as possible," she says.

Credit: Larsen + Talbert

As the fourth of 19 children to parents Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar, her decision goes against the beliefs of her religious family, who also forbid nearly all physical contact with the opposite sex before marriage, "revealing" clothes (meaning anything exposing shoulders or knees) as well as dancing, alcohol and non-religious music.

"I think you need to do what's healthiest and best for your family," says Jill, adding that she and Derick, 31, rely on "non-hormonal birth control" such as various barrier methods.

  • For more on Jill Duggar, pick up this week's issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday
Credit: Larsen + Talbert

After years of being a prominent fixture on the family's first TLC series, 19 Kids and Counting, Jill went on to star in the subsequent spinoff Counting On. In 2017, she quietly quit the show.

Since her departure, the couple has begun sharing more of their lives on their Dillard Family blog and official YouTube page.

In addition to birth control, Jill has also changed her stance on some of the other rules she once strictly abided by. She's gotten a nose ring, enjoyed the occasional cocktail or glass of wine, worn jeans, and even modeled modest swimwear.

While their decisions may not align with her famous family, she says that's okay.

"I don't expect everyone to understand why we're making the decisions that we are," says Jill. "So it's alright if they don't agree with me."