Best Methods Of Contraception After Pregnancy

After you've had a baby chances are that you're probably not too keen on getting pregnant again any time soon! Not only that pregnancy and childbirth have been taxing for your body, and you need a bit of rest. In addition, you're probably going to be too preoccupied on raising your newborn to want to deal with pregnancy immediately.

But what about all those times that you and your partner will inevitably want to get frisky in bed? To help you out, here's our comprehensive post-pregnancy contraception guide.

15 Abstinence

When to use it: right after childbirth.

Reliability: 100%

You may think that this sounds like an eye-rolling lecture from high school sex ed. But trust us, it isn’t. Immediately after pregnancy, you’ll probably still be sore down in your lady parts. Chances are, you’re not going to want to have sex any time soon anyway. In addition, your doctor will probably recommend that you abstain from sex for about four to six weeks, depending on any tears or injuries you’ve had during childbirth.

If you do want to have sex earlier than this you can, of course, check with your doctor to see if you’re good to go. But just because you want to get some doesn’t mean that abstinence totally isn’t for you. In fact, it’s an opportunity to get a bit creative in bed. You probably already know by now that there are plenty of things that can give both you and your husband pleasure other than plain old vaginal penetration.

14 Fertility Awareness

When to use it: in about a year or so.

Reliability: up to 90% if done properly, but not recommended right after childbirth.

If you’ve been relying on fertility awareness or what is more commonly known as natural family planning before, you probably want to go on with it after pregnancy. We do recommend, however, that you try another form of birth control for about a year or so after childbirth.

This is because it may take a while for your period to return, about one to two months. Since your period is your main guide for the calendar method, it may not be possible during this time. Also, don’t think that you can’t get pregnant yet just because you haven’t had your period. Some women do ovulate during this time. It takes a minimum of six months, ideally up to a year, of period tracking before you can have a reliable measure of your menstrual cycle. Therefore, using the calendar method as your primary source of contraception during this period isn’t advised.

13 Lactation Amenorrhea Method

When to use it: right after childbirth to up to six months.

Reliability: 98%, if three conditions are met (see below.)

Lactation amenorrhea method or LAM is a natural method of birth control through breastfeeding. This is effective because for the first six months after childbirth, breastfeeding suppresses the release of luteinizing hormone or LH from the pituitary gland. LH is the hormone that triggers ovulation.

It is, however, important to note that LAM only works if three conditions are met. First of all, you have to be exclusively breastfeeding. This means that, for six months, breastmilk is your baby’s sole source of nutrition. Introducing solid food or formula early may decrease breastmilk consumption and reduce the effect of LAM. Second, you have to feed your baby regularly at least every four hours in the daytime and every six hours at nighttime. Pumping may not be as effective as an actual baby’s latch. Lastly, your menstrual period must not have yet returned.

If, at any point, you do not meet these three conditions, you ought to consider another form of contraception.

12 Condoms

When to use it: as soon as you can have sex, about four to six weeks.

Reliability: 95-98%, if used properly.

Condoms, whether the male or female variety, are a great form of post-pregnancy contraception because they’re handy, you can use them at any time, and they don’t contain anything that will get into your breastmilk. You can also use them immediately after your doctor says you can start having sex. They’re also a must if you have multiple partners or a new sexual partner as they’re a great barrier against sexually transmitted infections.

Condoms are effective only when used properly. If you haven’t used them before, therefore, it’s best to learn how to put them on.

Do note that after childbirth, especially if you’re breastfeeding, your vagina may still be dry and penetration therefore may be painful. It’s best to choose a condom with lubricant or, if you need a bit more than that, get some water-based lubricant. Don’t go for oil-based lubricants as these can damage the condom.

11 Progestin-only Pill

When to use it: start at six to eight weeks after birth.

Reliability: 95-99% if taken at the same time every day.

Also known as the mini-pill or the POP, the progestin-only pill, as the name implies, contains only the hormone progestin and not estrogen. This works by thickening the cervical mucus, preventing from sperm going up. It may also, sometimes, suppress ovulation.

This is a great pill to take when you’re breastfeeding. It’s because progestin, when taken by mothers in the recommended dose, has not been found to have any harmful effect on breastfeeding babies. They’re also a bit more desirable than pills that have estrogen. This is because pills with estrogen are thought to suppress lactation and have been linked to low milk supply, although some research does suggest otherwise. To be safe, however, most doctors do prescribe POP to breastfeeding moms.

The most important consideration when taking this form of contraception is to take it at the same time each day. If you’ve complied to this timeframe properly, POP can reach up to 99% effectivity.

10 Diaphragm or Cervical Cap

When to use it: at about six weeks after birth, or when the doctor says it's OK to use.

Reliability: 91-94% if used properly.

The diaphragm and cervical cap are small devices made of silicone that physically block the cervix, which is sperm’s entry into the uterus. It’s also treated with a bit of spermicide to prevent any sperm from getting through.

It can be a bit of a high-maintenance contraceptive device as you will have to learn how to put it in properly as well as know the right time to remove it. However, once you get the hang of it, it’s pretty convenient. A single diaphragm can last for up to two years and need only be washed properly and treated with spermicide before each use. You can also leave it in for up to 24 hours so there’s no need to stop the foreplay to, say, put on a condom.

Like condoms, however, diaphragms are made of silicone and so you may want to choose water-based lubricants and avoid the oil-based ones if you have one on.

9 Contraceptive Injection

When to use it: about 6 weeks after birth.

Reliability: 99% when used correctly.

Like pills, injections like Depo-Provera, Sayana Press and Noristerat are hormonal contraceptives. Their composition is pretty much that of POPs or mini-pills in that their active ingredient is progestin. This means that they’re entirely safe for breastfeeding moms and can be used immediately when you’re ready to have sex, about six weeks after childbirth. It’s a great alternative for moms who would have wanted to use the lactation amenorrhea method but have started their period before six months.

Their main advantage over pills is that you don’t have to remember to take them at the same time each day and they can last for about eight to 12 weeks depending on the brand of injections you’re using. After this duration, you must have another injection.

Having a contraceptive injection within the first five days after your period ensures immediate contraception. If, however, you have it any other time, you must wait seven days before having sex.

8 The Implant

When to use it: three weeks after childbirth.

Reliability: 99%

A birth control implant such as Implanon or Nexplanon is a small, flexible plastic device that contains progestin. It is implanted usually under the skin of your upper arm. Once inside, it releases slow, steady doses of progestin over a period of three to four years. It’s a great option for women who don’t plan on getting pregnant for quite some time. It’s also pretty low maintenance. All you have to do is to get it implanted surgically and then forget about it for a few years. That gives you way more leeway than pills, which you have to remember to take everyday, and injections, which you must receive every two to three months.

Because it uses progestin, birth control implants are also safe for breastfeeding moms and can be inserted as little as three weeks after childbirth. If you’re interested in using implants as a birth control method, tell your doctor or a health care provider.

7 Intrauterine System or Device

When to use it: six to eight weeks after childbirth.

Reliability: 99%

The intrauterine system or IUS and the intrauterine device or IUD are small T-shaped plastic devices that are inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. There are two main types of IUDs.

In the first type, the plastic T is wrapped with coils of the metal copper. Copper is toxic to sperm and may also make your cervical mucus a bit thicker. A copper IUD is a bit costly but can last up to twelve years. If you do decide to get pregnant before then, however, all you need to do is get the device removed.

The second type of IUD contains the hormone progestin and, like the birth control implant, releases it slowly. This type of IUD lasts for about three to six years, depending on the brand.

Both types of IUDs are safe for breastfeeding moms. They’re can usually be implanted six to eight weeks after childbirth, but sometimes can be put in in less than that if your doctor says you’re good to go.

6 Morning After Pill

When to use it: as soon as you can have sex, about four to six weeks.

Reliability: 94% if taken within 24 hours after having unprotected sex, 89% if taken within 72 hours.

There may be times when you and your partner get a little bit excited under the sheets and have unprotected sex. Alternatively, your condom may have torn or your diaphragm dislodged. Because of this, the morning after pill is pretty handy to have around.

If you’re breastfeeding, make sure you choose a morning after pill that contains only progestin as its active ingredient. This is so you do not inadvertently reduce your milk supply. Some sources say that progestin-based morning after pills are fine to take when breastfeeding. Other sources, however, do say that the morning after pill may only be taken if you don’t plan to breastfeed for a day or two afterwards. If you are concerned about the effects of the pill to your breastmilk, it’s best to ask your doctor or the pharmacist about the specific brand available to you.

5 The Pill

When to use it: three weeks after childbirth, if you don't plan to breastfeed.

Reliability: 99% if taken at the same time everyday.

The pill containing both estrogen and progesterone, usually simply called the pill, is another contraceptive option that you can begin about three weeks from childbirth. It’s not quite recommended if you’re planning to breastfeed as the estrogen content of the pill is thought to suppress breastmilk production.

This, however, can be an advantage if you’re not planning to breastfeed but still have to deal with the excess milk production. Without a baby constantly draining milk supply in your breasts, they might get painfully engorged or even clogged up. Because of this, you may have to pump your breasts to relieve yourself. However, it is important to keep in mind that the more you drain your breasts, the more they are stimulated to produce milk. If you’re taking the pill, its estrogen content may help dry up your milk production.

Like the mini-pill, it is most effective when taken at the same time each day.

4 The Patch

When to use it: three weeks after childbirth, if you don't plan to breastfeed.

Reliability: 99% if used properly.

The birth control patch is a piece of plastic with an adhesive that sticks to your skin. It releases both estrogen and progesterone slowly into your body. You must stick a new patch onto your body once a week. After three weeks of using the patch, you may have a patch-free week. Don’t forget to stick on another patch the week afterwards. Many women find this a bit easier to remember than taking the pill daily. The way it’s designed, it looks kind-of like a band-aid so it’s pretty discrete.

You have to make sure that you clean and dry your skin thoroughly before applying it. Make sure you don’t apply it somewhere that has wounds, is irritated, or is prone to be rubbed by clothing. Don’t apply it onto your breasts either.

Since it contains estrogen, however, it’s also not a recommended contraceptive for breastfeeding mothers. If you were using a patch prior to your pregnancy and want to continue breastfeeding, you may have to search for other options.

3 The Vaginal Ring

When to use it: three weeks after childbirth, if you don't plan to breastfeed.

Reliability: 99% if used properly.

The vaginal ring is another method of birth control containing the hormones estrogen and progesterone. It is, therefore, not the method of choice for breastfeeding mothers. Otherwise, however, it is completely safe. You may begin using it 21 days or three weeks after childbirth.

It is a plastic ring placed into the vagina and releases the hormones slowly into your system, pretty much like the patch or the implant. Its use is a bit similar to that of the patch as well in that you place a ring in for three weeks and then remove it for a week. You then insert a new one the week after that. This effectively means that you only need to insert and remove the ring once every month. If at any time you decide to get pregnant while using the ring, you simply need to take it out and you should be able to conceive within a month or so.

2 Bilateral Tubal Ligation or Implants

When to use it: immediately after childbirth if you don't plan on having any more kids.

Reliability: about 99%

If you’re convinced that your newborn is absolutely going to be the last, you can opt for a more permanent sterilization procedure. In women, this is bilateral tubal ligation or getting your fallopian tubes tied or cut. Alternatively, you can opt for tubal implants, which involves the insertion of metal springs into your fallopian tubes which promote the formation of scar tissue that eventually blocks the tubes completely. You must, however, use another form of birth control for three months while you’re waiting for the scar tissue to form.

This is an ideal option if you already have plenty of kids or, at least, as many kids as you think you want to have. Unlike most birth control methods, this does not affect your hormones nor your ability to ovulate. Sperm simply does not reach the egg cells. The advantage is, of course, that you don’t have to remember to put something on or take something in regularly or, at least, every time you have sex.

1 Vasectomy (for him)

When to use it: your partner can have the procedure done at any time.

Reliability: 99% for vasectomies performed by surgeons who do the procedure regularly.

If you and your partner decide not to have any more children, you don’t have to bear the brunt of the responsibility for birth control. While you could opt for a bilateral tubal ligation, your partner could also go ahead and get a vasectomy. This is a procedure in which the vas deferens, tubes that carry sperm, are tied or cut ensuring that no sperm is mixed in with the semen. The advantage to this is that your partner can get the procedure done any time after your childbirth. It also has significantly lower risks compared to a tubal ligation.

The only real thing that affects its reliability is the surgeon that performs it. If it is done by a surgeon that regularly does vasectomies, the reliability rate is more than 99%. If it is done by someone who performs less than 50 vasectomies a year, however, the reliability rate can go down to 83-90%.

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