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How Soon Should I Start Birth Control After Having a Baby?

Many women believe they can’t get pregnant during their period, after giving birth, or while breastfeeding, but these are all myths that can jeopardize your future. To avoid any surprises  and plan your family appropriately, you should find a suitable birth control method as soon as you want to continue having unprotected sex. 

At Physicians for Women in Madison, Wisconsin, our team of women’s health specialists, including gynecologists, board-certified obstetricians, and certified nurse midwives, can help you with all stages of family planning, including birth control after a recent delivery.

Using birth control after pregnancy 

There are plenty of tall tales and falsehoods surrounding periods, pregnancy, and breastfeeding. Lack of sex education only makes this problem worse, leaving many women in the dark about sex, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and birth control. 

If you’ve recently had a baby, you’re probably not too keen on getting pregnant again too soon. It’s natural for birth parents to want their children to be close in age, but many experts recommend waiting at least 18 months before getting pregnant again. 

This gives your family time to adjust to the new member of the house, and reduces the risk of complications if you decide to have another child. In the meantime, you have plenty of options for birth control after pregnancy

When to begin taking birth control

If you’re capable of getting pregnant, have penetrative sex with men, and don’t want to become pregnant again right after giving birth, you need to use birth control starting as soon as possible.

Since you ovulate two weeks before your uterus sheds, it’s possible to get pregnant before your first postpartum period. During your first postnatal check, you’ll likely be asked about what form of birth control you’re accustomed to using, and whether you’d like to switch to another contraceptive. It’s important to know that breastfeeding doesn’t prevent pregnancy.

A very effective and accessible form of birth control is male condoms, but married or committed couples might not want to use these long-term. Female condoms and foam or gel spermicides are also options. 

The “pull-out method” (ejaculation outside the vagina) and the “rhythm method” (trying to avoid having sex during periods of fertility) are not recommended because they have a very high fail rate.

Choosing your form of birth control 

While hormonal methods of birth control like estrogen pills, depo shots, and patches require a 3-6 week wait before you can begin using them after delivery, a progesterone pill can be taken immediately following your baby’s birth to stave off an unwanted pregnancy. 

If you’re pregnant, nearing your delivery date, and certain you don’t want another baby in the near future, consider asking your OB/GYN to insert an intrauterine device (IUD) or intrauterine system (IUS) during delivery. If you’ve already given birth, you’ll need to wait until your cervix has healed before scheduling the procedure.

For many mothers, the convenient and most efficient option is a subdermal implant, such as Nexplanon®. Unlike an IUD, this small rod is inserted into the arm, rather than the cervix.

Implants can be put in directly after giving birth and last three years, so you don’t have to worry about becoming pregnant again until your baby is a toddler. It can be easily removed if/when you want to start trying for another child.

For those with a busy schedule, especially working mothers, not having to remember a crucial pill every day is another thing off their plate. For those who have issues with the pill, such as weight gain or moodiness, alternate methods can be more ideal. Additionally, you won’t have to worry about the pill being overridden by antibiotics if you get sick.

To learn more about your options for birth control, get in touch with the team at Physicians for Women by calling 608-227-7007, or book an appointment online.

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