Contraception after giving birth

I just had a baby and now I'm thinking of starting contraception


The time after childbirth will be fraught with all sorts of new experiences and stresses as you get used to your new role as a parent and allow your body to recover. Contraception is a necessary component to consider amongst this. There are many different options out there, so it's essential to find the one that's best suited to your body's needs and your circumstances.


How long after childbirth should I wait?

It may be the last thing on your mind right now, but it is possible to fall pregnant soon after giving birth. As soon as you begin ovulating, your body is susceptible to fertilisation. You can expect your periods to return 5-6 weeks after the birth. This timeframe is a rough guideline as breastfeeding can delay this, and of course, everyone's body is different.

As a general rule, it is recommended to start using contraception three weeks after childbirth to prevent another pregnancy. However, there is no rush to get physical, and no recommended period to wait before having sex after birth. It depends entirely on when you feel comfortable and ready.

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Where can I get advice about my options?

Your midwife or health visitor is the best source of advice. They are familiar with your circumstances, and health records so will be the best person to discuss what's best for your needs. You can also seek guidance from your GP or local family planning clinic.

Long Acting Reversible Contraceptives are the most effective and reliable methods to prevent pregnancy; once they are in, you don't need to think about it. Other factors such as certain medications, stomach upset or condom breakage do not affect your contraception in contrast to short term methods like the pill, patch or both types of condoms.


Contraception you can use anytime

You can use several contraception methods at any time after the birth whether or not you are breastfeeding. These are both male and female condoms, the contraceptive injection, implant and progestogen-only pill.

Both the injection and implant are good options if you are likely to forget to take the pill every day. The implant lasts for three years and the injection for 13 weeks. However, it can take up to a year for your fertility to return if using the contraception infection. Unlike the injection, the implant which can be removed at any time without a lasting effect.

Contraception Three Weeks After Birth or Six Weeks if Breastfeeding

You can use the combined pill, contraceptive patch and vaginal ring after three weeks if you are not breastfeeding. If you are, you'll need to wait six weeks before using these three methods as the oestrogen released from these contraceptives may interfere with your ability to produce milk.


Contraception Four Weeks After Birth

You can have an IUD fitted four weeks after giving birth and in some cases within 48 hours of delivery. You'll be protected right away, and they last for 5-10 years depending on the type. The advantage of the copper IUD is that there are no hormones, unless you choose the IUS (known as the Mirena coil), making it a good option for women sensitive to hormone-based contraceptives.


Contraception Six Weeks After Birth

After six weeks, you can use a diaphragm or cap. You will need to ensure that it's correctly fitted to rely on it with confidence. The shape of your vagina changes after childbirth, so it's best to get a new one fitted with your doctor.

It's important to consider which contraceptive is best suited for you carefully. Each method comes with their own potential risks, and side effects and what works for one person may not suit another. Your doctor will advise you on what's best based on your own medical circumstances so if you are unsure, then reach out for guidance.



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