Most women’s healthcare providers suggest waiting at least six weeks – or longer – before resuming sexual activity after giving birth. Once you’re in the clear, you may be wondering about contraception after pregnancy that you can use while recovering or breastfeeding. These postpartum contraception methods provide safe and effective options to help with your family planning goals:
- Birth control pills
- The implant
- Barrier methods
- Ring or patch (discuss with your provider)
Below, discover what you need to know about each option for contraception after pregnancy.
Birth control pills
“You can still take a birth control pill during the postpartum period, but the type of pill can affect breastfeeding,” said Dr. Ken Ostermann, OB/GYN and Urogynecologist with Marshfield Clinic Health System.
Options containing estrogen can lower milk supply in some women, so be sure to tell your provider if you’re breastfeeding, and they may prescribe a progestin-only pill.
An IUD, or intrauterine device, provides a long-term, low-maintenance option. You can choose between a hormonal IUD that releases a small amount of progestin into the uterus, or a non-hormonal copper IUD. Either can be inserted at your first postpartum visit.
Nexplanon® is a small, progestin-releasing plastic rod that’s inserted into your arm instead of your uterus. This contraception implant can be used anytime during the postpartum period. Since it does not contain estrogen, it won’t affect breastfeeding and is safe to use after giving birth.
Depo-Provera® is another progestin-only postpartum contraception option that comes in the form of a shot given every three months.
“Some evidence indicates that this injection might improve the nutritional quality of breast milk,” Ostermann said. “It is another method you can begin during postpartum or as soon as you feel ready.”
Condoms are the simplest of the barrier methods and need no special considerations for postpartum contraception. However, they’re not the only barrier method available. Your women’s health provider can also fit you for a diaphragm or cervical cap after at least six weeks postpartum. If you used one before pregnancy, you’d likely need a new one because the size you need may change after childbirth. Barrier methods are all hormone-free, so they are safe options for contraception after pregnancy.
Vaginal ring or patch (discuss with your provider)
Both the NuvaRing® and Ortho Evra patch do contain estrogen, so your women’s health provider may steer you to another postpartum contraception option if milk supply is a concern.
“Each woman reacts differently,” Ostermann said. “So if you’re choosing this option and you’re breastfeeding, pay attention to how much milk you’re producing both before and after you start this contraception after pregnancy.”
We are here to guide you through all the options for contraception after pregnancy. Schedule your postpartum care appointment today.