You’re having a baby! You’re happy, you’re stressed, you’re excited, and you’re preparing for a whole new life.
Amidst this flurry of emotions (and hormones) – it can become overwhelming to think about contraception after delivery. But the last thing you want right after a baby is an unplanned pregnancy.
But it can be confusing to navigate all the different options for contraception. What is safe for you and for the baby? How do breastfeeding and contraception work? When can you start using a method? Ahhh – so much to think about!
We get that. That’s why the Find My Method crew has decided to compile this comprehensive guide to help you pick the best option for you.
When should I begin to use contraception after delivery?
Many women become fertile again soon after delivery, so having a contraception plan before you take that newborn home could save you a lot of worry and hassle.
After having a baby, it’s best to wait at least a year—some experts say two—to get pregnant again. This gives your body time to heal and allows you to put all your energy toward caring for your new baby. Luckily, there are many options for you out there that are safe to use soon after delivery, and even when breastfeeding
If you want to start immediately after giving birth, these methods are for you
Both copper and hormonal IUDs are convenient, safe, and effective—and both kinds of IUD can be inserted immediately after delivery. When an IUD is placed immediately after delivery, the risk of expulsion may be slightly higher than if you wait several weeks, but the convenience of not having to schedule a time to go back to your doctor may be worth it.
It is very easy and completely safe to get the implant immediately after delivery. If you stay in the hospital for a few days, the implant can be inserted any time prior to discharge from the hospital.
In most hospitals it’s easy to get an injectable prior to discharge, so it can be a great option for temporary or longer-term contraception. As the effects of the injectable last up to 12 weeks, you can get it at the time of discharge and switch to one of the more effective methods at your six-week visit.
If taken every day at the same time, POPs work for new mothers and aren’t a problem if you’re breastfeeding. Can be used by any women, including teenagers and women over 40 years old. And, you have full control over this method, you can stop it anytime you want to.
Did you know that breastfeeding can also be used as a form of contraception? Also called “Lactational Amenorrhea”, this method is relies on the infertility during breastfeeding. As your body produces milk supply, a hormone called prolactin increases in your body which conveniently also suppresses ovulation. But if you choose this method, be sure to understand it well; it is most effective during the first 6 months after delivery, as long as your period has not returned and the you are fully or nearly fully breastfeeding (i.e. no formula or solid foods for the baby).
After the third week if you’re not breastfeeding or after the 6th week if you’re breastfeeding
Contain low doses of Progestin and Estrogen preventing the release of eggs from the ovaries. Take one pill every day and start each new package on time for greatest effectiveness, also, you can start taking the COCs any time of the month and stop using it whenever you prefer.
This small, thin, square adhesive patch will prevent pregnancies and you can apply it on your back, stomach, abdomen, etc. Use a new patch every week for 3 weeks, and then no patch for the fourth week.
After the 6th week
It is better to avoid the Diaphragm and the Cervical cap for at least six weeks after delivery since the normal changes of pregnancy may mean these devices don’t fit as well. The vagina is usually messy after giving birth, so you may not want to use spermicide either.
Hormonal or hormone free?
Don’t believe any myths that a woman who is breastfeeding cannot use a hormonal contraceptive method! There are proven studies that show that they won’t hurt you or your baby. All the above methods listed, whether hormonal or not, are completely safe to use.
Are you looking for a long, medium or short term solution?
If you want to wait for a long time, or are not looking to have another baby at all, the Copper IUD might be a good option for you. They‘re 99% effective and if you want to get pregnant you just need to get it removed, IUDs don‘t affect your fertility.
If you want to wait 3-5 years, you can look to the Hormonal IUD or Implant. Both can reduce cramps and make your period lighter, some women might experience no bleeding at all and they‘re highly effective.
The injectable requires a visiti to the doctor every 2 or 3 months, because it‘s only an injection it‘s a very discreet method. POP is very effective if taken at the same time every day and you can start and stop taking it whenever you want to.
To learn more, visit https://findmymethod.org/ to try our contraceptive finder. Based on what you prefer for your body and lifestyle, you can compare different methods to make your decision easier.
- World Health Organization Department of Reproductive Health and Research (WHO/RHR) and Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health/Center for Communication Programs (CCP), Knowledge for Health Project. Family Planning: A Global Handbook for Providers (2018 update). Baltimore and Geneva: CCP and WHO, 2018
- contraceptive choices –after you’ve had your baby, FPA, July 2017, https://www.fpa.org.uk/sites/default/files/contraception-after-having-baby-your-guide.pdf
- What’s the best birth control option while breastfeeding?, Planned Parenthood, https://www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/breastfeeding/whats-best-birth-control-option-while-breastfeeding