Birth Control After Baby
First comes us, then comes baby.
For the typical couple, the life-altering adjustment from “just us two” to “us and this sweet little monster who does nothing but eat, sleep, poop, and repeat” is probably enough to warrant immediate birth control — at least for awhile, anyway. Not to mention, the new mama may not be feeling super sexy after carrying a baby for nine months and then going through the beautiful (yet painful and exhausting) process of giving birth. For some couples, this adjustment period will be longer than for others. It is my personal belief that a lot of this depends on how much sleep mom is getting. 😉
Despite all these changes to the relationship, all parties will eventually regain interest in resuming their previous sexual activities. What each couple has to decide individually is how soon they might want to try for a brother or a sister.
Did you know that a new mom can become pregnant again, even before she starts her period? Ovulation occurs two weeks before menstruation. Unless you think you’re immediately ready to have another child, you do NOT want to wait until you get your period to start taking your birth control!
Truth: You can get pregnant while nursing.
On average, non-breastfeeding women ovulate for the first time 45 days after baby is born. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG), there are certain criteria a new mom’s breastfeeding patterns must meet before she can rely on breastfeeding as a form of birth control. “Unless she is breastfeeding every four hours during the day and six hours at night, providing more than 90 to 95 percent of her baby’s milk through breast milk, and planning to breastfeed for more than six months, her risk of getting pregnant is merely reduced.” (www.parents.com) And even then, you will still want to be careful…
So what are your options?
Your options depend on whether or not you are breastfeeding. If you are not breastfeeding, any of the options are safe six weeks after baby is born. If you are breastfeeding, your only (generally considered safe) option — other than condoms — is to take an (oral) estrogen-free birth control pill. Other options (if not breastfeeding) include: an intrauterine device (IUD), birth control implants, patches, shots (Depo-Provera), and vaginal rings.
There is debate regarding whether or not hormonal supplements (like estrogen) affect breast milk. Most physicians generally agree it is best to stay away from it. They say, if possible, the breastfeeding mom should stick with progestin only pills. It’s also important to note that some forms of birth control require several weeks to become effective. Bum, bum, bum. (Cue the horror music.) Your best bet? Start thinking about your birth control options before baby, during your pregnancy.
Did you know? Childbirth can affect the size and shape of a woman’s vagina. You should be refitted for a diaphragm (if this is your method of choice) after baby is born.
It’s all about timing.
If you think that you do not want to become pregnant again for three to five years, the IUD or the implant are good options. If you’re breastfeeding and you think you may want to have another child sooner than that, an estrogen-free pill is your best option. For those in the first category (wanting to wait a little longer before conceiving again), the arm implant can be implanted just 21 days after birth, and is effective after 24 hours. With the pill — when you’re ready to become pregnant again — you should be able to conceive after only a couple of months (after stopping the pill). With the Depo-Provera shot, it could be six months or more before you become pregnant.
According to the ACOG, hormonal methods of birth control are generally more effective than barrier methods. Hormonal methods of birth control offer new moms a 99% effective rate. In contrast, barrier methods (like diaphragms, condoms, and spermicide) offer only an 85% effective rate. Many couples choose tubal litigation (getting your tubes tied), or the male equivalent (vasectomy) once they are done having children. These procedures can be performed as early as the day after birth.
Always, always consult your personal physician before making any decisions about birth control. Your doctor will be able to answer all of your questions, and help you make the best, informed choice about what is right for you and your family’s plan.