Postnatal contraception
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Barts Health
Barts Health - NHS Trust has very kindly allowed Essential Parent to use its wonderful "Going home - our guide to postnatal care" leaflet to provide the information for many of our articles, including this one.
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Midwives' postnatal appointment

Postnatal contraception

This may be the last thought on your mind when you have just had a baby. It is recommended that you do not have intercourse until after the bleeding has stopped for a few days and you feel ready. This allows for healing to take place and helps to prevent infection.
In Short
People feel ready at different times, many people do not feel ready for some months and this is normal. If you do not want to become pregnant quickly again after the birth, you will need to think about which method of contraception you are going to use before you have sex again.

Which contraceptive method will be suitable for me?

This depends on what you and your partner prefer, your medical history, any problems you had in your pregnancy and if you are breastfeeding. If you think you may want to have another baby in the next year or so you may prefer a short-acting method:

  • The combined pill – contains oestrogen and progesterone
  • The contraceptive patch – contains oestrogen and progesterone
  • The progesterone only pill
  • Male or female condoms
  • Diaphragm or cap with spermicide

These are all effective methods of contraception if used according to their instructions. Condoms and the progesterone only pill can be started straight away and can be used if you are breastfeeding.

The combined pill cannot be used if you are breastfeeding as it interferes with the production of breast milk.

If you don’t want to get pregnant again for some time one of the following long-acting reversible contraception methods may suit you:

  • Contraceptive progesterone implant – lasts for 3 years (Implanon or Nexplanon)
  • Intra-uterine system (progesterone intrauterine coil, also known as Mirena) – lasts for five years and can also lighten / stop periods
  • Contraceptive progesterone injection – lasts for 12 weeks (Depo-Provera) or eight weeks (Noristerat)
  • Intra-uterine device (copper coil) – lasts for three to 10 years depending on type.These methods are all very effective and can all be easily removed if you decide you are ready for another baby.

Implanon can be started straight away, and the Mirena coil can be inserted six weeks after having your baby. Both can be used if you are breastfeeding.

If you are absolutely sure you never want any more children you may wish to consider female sterilisation or male sterilisation (vasectomy). These are permanent methods of contraception.

If you are exclusively breastfeeding, it is common to not have periods. Some women chose to rely on this as a method of contraception. This is called lactational amenorrhoea method (LAM). This can be reliable if you are having no periods, fully breastfeeding and the baby is less than six months old. It is possible to get pregnant again before you have your first period as you ovulate two weeks before you get your period. One in 200 women using this method get pregnant in the first six months.

If you need further information about contraception please speak to your GP, midwife or health visitor at your postnatal follow up appointments. The six week check at the GP is a good opportunity to discuss contraception.

Share the knowledge
This article is for information only and should not be used for the diagnosis or treatment of medical conditions. Essential Parent has used all reasonable care in compiling the information from leading experts and institutions but makes no warranty as to its accuracy. Consult a doctor or other health care professional for diagnosis and treatment of medical conditions. For details click here.