Contraception After Childbirth: Your Options Explained

Giving birth and bringing new life into the world is a monumental experience. With it, however, comes a multitude of decisions to make, one being contraception after childbirth. Understandably, this isn’t the first thing you want to think about after giving birth to your baby, and while there can be external pressures, it’s important to remember it’s your body and your choice.

Here I’ll be giving you a list of effective contraception methods with the aim of providing you all the information you need to make an informed decision.

Making an Informed Decision

The most important aspect of choosing contraception after childbirth is ensuring that you are in control of the process.
Don’t feel rushed into making a decision.
You have the right to choose when the right time to go back on contraception is (if that’s even what you want to do). Your body has gone through massive changes during pregnancy and childbirth. It’s okay if you want to figure out your body before making a decision.

Postpartum Fertility

Your fertility can return relatively quickly after childbirth. Some women may ovulate as early as three weeks postpartum, even if they’re breastfeeding.

I think it’s because of this short time frame that contraception options are pushed upon us so quickly after giving birth. I remember being shocked the first time around how quickly the conversation of contraception came up with my midwife (I’m talking two hours after giving birth).

You might not be prepared for or desire another pregnancy right away. Fortunately, there are numerous contraception options available. The main concern is finding one that aligns with your preferences and needs. And just because you were on one type of contraception before pregnancy, it doesn’t mean you need to go back onto it. You could change to something else to fit your new lifestyle. Your healthcare provider can guide you through this process and help you make a choice that suits your unique circumstances.


[Read more: How Long Will It Take After Coming Off Contraception Will It Take To Get Pregnant?]
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Your Contraception Options

Combined Pill

The combined oral contraceptive pill is a popular hormonal method that contains both estrogen and progestin. Taken daily, it effectively prevents pregnancy in 99% of cases. It offers the convenience of daily use; however, it requires consistency with the timing for optimal results. You could get pregnant if the pill isn’t taken consistently or you have bouts of sickness and diarrhoea. This particular method can also help to regulate your menstrual cycle as it’s a three-week on, one-week off contraceptive.

Diaphragm/Cap

This hormone-free barrier method is 92%-96% effective when used correctly. The cap requires insertion with spermicide into the vagina before sexual intercourse and acts as a barricade for sperm entering the womb. The diaphragm can only be removed six hours after having sexual intercourse. Any sooner lessens its effectiveness. This particular contraception means you are fully in control; however, it can take time to learn how to use it properly.

Female Condoms

Female condoms are inserted into the vagina before sex and provide protection against both pregnancy and STIs. While they’re not as common as male condoms, they’re great for women who want to take control of their contraceptive needs. That being said, they may not be a great option for those who aren’t comfortable touching their genital area. Female condoms are 95% effective when used correctly.

Implant

A small flexible rod is inserted under the skin, usually at the top of the arm and offers protection for up to three years. This particular device releases progestogen into the bloodstream, which prevents pregnancy. It’s 99% effective and, once inserted, is something you can forget about for three years. It’s quite common for periods to stop or become irregular when using the implant, so it’s worth taking this into consideration and deciding whether this is a pro or a con for you.

Injection

The birth control injection is progestin-only and given every 8-12 weeks. It’s useful for those who struggle to remember to take the pill at the same time every day; however, it does require regular appointments at your GP surgery. If used correctly, the contraceptive injection is 99% effective.

IUD Coil

An IUD coil is a small T-shaped device which is inserted into the uterus. It offers long-term, low-maintenance protection and, once inserted, provides 99% effectiveness. Depending on the type of IUD inserted, it can last for five to ten years. There’s a small risk with this particular contraception that your body may reject it, or it may move. However, your nurse will teach you how to check for this. Like with most options, this particular contraceptive won’t protect against STIs.

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IUS Coil

This particular type of contraceptive is similar to the IUD coil. However, it kicks out the hormone progestin as opposed to being hormone-free. The IUS protects against pregnancy for three to five years. It provides long-term contraception with a typical effectiveness of more than 99%. 
This is a great option for those with endometriosis or adenomyosis, as it can help alleviate symptoms of this, too.

Male Condoms

Worn over the penis, male condoms are readily available and have an effectiveness rate of 98%. They not only provide contraceptive protection but also against sexually transmitted infections (STI’s). Condoms offer an easily accessible method of contraception as and when you need them.

Natural Family Planning

This method involves tracking your menstrual cycle to determine fertile and non-fertile days. Its effectiveness can vary but can be up to 99% effective with appropriate tracking. For this method to be as effective as possible, you need to track your body’s temperature and cervix fluids daily.

It can take up to six months to learn this method and make natural family planning a habit. If you want to have sex during your fertile days, other contraceptive methods, such as female or male condoms, should be worn. Natural family planning requires diligence in monitoring your body’s signs and fertility awareness.

Patch

The contraceptive patch is applied to the skin and changed weekly. Patches are worn for three weeks before having a week off to initiate a period. It has an effectiveness rate of around 99% when used correctly. The patch delivers hormones through the skin, offering a convenient option for women who find daily pill-taking challenging. The patch can be worn while swimming, in the bath and while playing sports.

Progestogen-Only Pill

The progestogen-only pill (POP) works in a similar way to the combined pill, only you take it continuously without a break for your period. If taken correctly, it has a 99% effectiveness rating and is a great option for those whose bodies don’t agree with oestrogen. There are certain medications which affect the POP, so it’s worth considering this when choosing your contraceptive method.

Vaginal Ring

The vaginal ring is inserted into the vagina for three weeks and removed for one week. It releases a continuous dose of oestrogen and progestogen to prevent pregnancy. The ring provides more than 99% effectiveness and is a great option for women wanting effective contraception with less frequent administration.

Sterilisation

Male and female sterilisation is a permanent option which is considered over 99% effective. For women, this includes blocking or sealing the fallopian tubes and for men, this means cutting or sealing the vas deferens to prevent the release of sperm during ejaculation. It’s a decision for couples who are sure they don’t want any more children.

In the end, contraception after childbirth is a deeply personal choice. There’s no one-size-fits-all answer, which is probably why there’s so many options available. Take the time to explore your options with your partner and your healthcare provider. Make sure you take your time, there’s no rush, and when the time is right, make the choice that aligns most with your values and lifestyle choice.

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