As soon as your baby is born, you get preoccupied with selecting clothes and items for your baby, not to mention being sleep-deprived and exhausted. Immediately post-delivery, becoming pregnant again is probably the last thing that comes to your mind. Moreover, it is recommended to have a gap of at least 2 years between pregnancies, to ensure optimal health for you and your baby. Fear not, as long as you are lactating, it is acting as natural contraception.
Fertility in women in the postpartum phase may vary. You can become fertile again as early as 21 days after delivery, but usually an average span of wait before the first ovulation post-delivery is 45 days. However, it is better to use contraception after pregnancy from the 21st day itself.
You may start menstruating from about 6th to 8th week after delivering a baby. If you prefer to exclusively breastfeed your baby, then it may get delayed up to 6 months or even more.
The choice of having sex depends on you and your partner. On an average, a couple can start having sex in three to four weeks after delivery. But, if you have undergone episiotomy or caesarean section, you might want to wait till your stitches are taken care off or they get absorbed and you are pain-free. Most importantly, you need to be physically and emotionally fit to have sex. If you experience any form of discomfort, it is better to consult your doctor.
Once you are fertile, you must start using contraceptives. If you are breast feeding, you may not use contraceptives for up to 6 months. If not, then you should start using contraceptives as early as 4 weeks after delivery.
Yes, exclusive breast feeding is a natural contraceptive. While you are breastfeeding your baby, you may have lactational amenorrhea. It usually lasts up to 6 months, from delivery. It is a very safe method and has an efficacy of 95%. But it is better to use other contraceptives like a condom as well to ensure 100% efficacy.
There are many methods of birth control after delivery, which are very effective.
Here is a list of birth control options after baby, while you are lactating.
Barrier methods – It is thus named as it prevents the contact between the sperm and the ovum. It is a simple, physical method that is absolutely safe while you are lactating. Barrier contraceptives do not have any side effects. Barrier methods of contraception after delivery include:
Hormone method – The hormone method includes use of mini pill or POP (progesterone only pill). The mini pill contains only progesterone, hence, it does not affect milk supply when you are breastfeeding.
Implant method – This method includes inserting an implant, usually under the skin of your arm, about 3 weeks after the delivery. These implants release very little amount of progesterone, which doesn’t hamper your milk supply, yet provides an effective contraception after childbirth. Implants have a life span of about three years from the date of insertion. One disadvantage is that these do not protect against sexually transmitted diseases.
Intrauterine devices – These are devices that are inserted through cervix into the uterus. They have a life span of 5-10 years. They are usually inserted within 6 weeks after delivery, before the uterus regains its normal shape. These devices have an efficacy of 99%.
If you are lactating, you should not be using contraceptives that use combined hormones. These contraceptives include contraceptive pills that contain both oestrogen and progesterone, which can affect the milk supply. These pills can be started immediately after you stop breastfeeding your baby. These are very effective, as much as 99%. While on contraceptive pills, you may experience withdrawal bleeding, which is slightly lighter than your normal bleeding.
If while using barrier method, the contraception has failed you may need to use emergency contraception. Emergency birth control pills can be used for this purpose. These are not recommended for routine use, as these pills can affect your milk supply as well as cause release of hormones in breastmilk. So as a precaution, avoid breast feeding for about 36 hours, after the use of emergency birth control pills.
To have long periods of contraception, you can use permanent methods of contraception, which include vasectomy in males or tubal ligation in females. These are the best birth control methods, only applicable if your family is complete. Vasectomy is a much more reliable method of sterilization or contraception over tubal ligation. These methods are permanent methods and once performed, you can as good as forget about getting pregnant.
Disclaimer: The information in the article is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your doctor.
Also read: Contraception: Know Your Choices
Explore the entire collection of articles: Mom Health#momhealth