Women's Health

When should you start taking the pill after giving birth? Here's what you need to know

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If you've recently given birth or are about to deliver a baby soon, you may be wondering when is the best time to start postpartum birth control.

This is important to know because most women will engage in sexual activity within six weeks of delivering a baby, and if you don't breastfeed, you can begin ovulating just a few weeks later.

It's also possible to fall pregnant before your period starts up again because you usually release an egg two weeks before your period.

If you're not planning on having another child in the near future, it's good to have a birth control plan in place if you don't want to get pregnant.

When should you start using contraception after birth?

While all birth control is safe for a breastfeeding mum, some can impact milk supply, so you might choose to wait before using them.

These include forms of birth control that contain estrogen, like the pill, which is a popular birth control method.

If you plan on breastfeeding, you might want to wait four to six weeks postpartum before taking the combination pill or instead use the mini pill, a progestin-only pill.

If you use a diaphragm, you should wait six weeks to give your cervix time to return to its regular size.

As long as you don't have any medical risks, you can use a wide range of contraception soon after giving birth.

You could use a contraceptive implant, a contraceptive injection, progestogen-only pill, condoms and diaphragms after giving birth.

You may even choose to have an intrauterine device [IUD] inserted within 48 hours of birth if you like, otherwise, the procedure can be done four to six weeks postpartum.

Another thing to consider is how often you'd like to use birth control as you'll have a baby taking up most of your attention, so ensure that whatever you choose, you'll remember to actually use it!

Three weeks after giving birth, if you're not breastfeeding and not at risk of blood clots, you can start using the combined pill, a NuvaRing or a contraceptive patch.

If you are breastfeeding, you'll need to wait until six weeks postpartum before you can start using these methods of birth control.

When can you start taking the pill after birth?

As mentioned above, you have two options when it comes to starting the pill after giving birth — if you're breastfeeding or at risk of blood clots, you will need to wait until six weeks postpartum, and if you're not breastfeeding or at risk of blood clots, you can start taking birth control pills as soon as you'd like!

Some women may tolerate the pill without any issue with their milk supply. However, the estrogen can cause them to dry up completely.

The pill after birth is low risk for most women, so if that's the route you'd like to take, you can do so knowing you won't be harming either yourself or your baby.

However, given how busy you'll be with your newborn, getting yourself to the doctor and then the pharmacy to get the pill can be a bit of a pain.

Thankfully, The Pill by Kin takes this annoyance away by delivering it straight to your door.

Simply answer the online questionnaire, followed by a text-based consult with an Aussie GP to get your prescription plan and it'll then be shipped straight to you.

It couldn't get any easier than that!

With a Kin membership, you don't need to worry about ever running out of the pill again because it will always ship to your door on time.

And you also have access to doctors who can chat with you about your birth control needs all day, every day, as well as amazing information on reproductive health sent straight to your inbox!

How cool is that?

If you are wanting to start on the pill after giving birth, Kin makes it easy and convenient.

Can you start birth control before your first postpartum period?

Using birth control before your first postpartum period is totally safe and even encouraged to avoid any unplanned pregnancies soon after giving birth.

As mentioned earlier, you have a wide variety of options that can be used after welcoming your baby, including a contraceptive implant, contraceptive injection, progestin-only pills, and barrier methods like male condoms and diaphragms.

An IUD can be inserted within the first 48 hours after giving birth, otherwise, it's advised to wait until four weeks postpartum.

Depending on when you get your first postpartum period, you may be able to start birth control pills or using a vaginal ring or a contraceptive patch as long as you've been cleared by a healthcare professional three weeks after birth.

Otherwise, you may need to wait until six weeks postpartum.

Should you use the same type of birth control you used before getting pregnant?

There are so many different birth control methods, and while you can absolutely use the same type you used before getting pregnant, there are some factors that might lead you to choose something else.

For instance, if you use the pill or another birth control method that you need to take or change regularly, you might find that a longer-acting form of birth control will be better for you.

Of course, this is entirely up to you, but remember, you've got a little one who will keep you very busy and distracted!

But if you can remember to take your birth control or change it regularly, then that's totally fine.

Another thing to remember is if you were to get a longer-acting birth control method such as an IUD, you will need to have this removed by a doctor if you decide you'd like to try for pregnancy again, whereas you can simply stop other forms of birth control.

So if you're considering getting pregnant again not too long after welcoming your baby, you might prefer something you can stop on your own.

It's a good idea to consider your options before welcoming your baby, so you have a plan ready to go after the birth.

Starting birth control pill after a medical abortion

Medical abortion is when a pregnancy is ended using medication prescribed by a doctor.

According to peer-reviewed studies, the shorter the gestational period, the sooner ovulation will resume.

So, it's important to note you will likely become fertile again very soon after an abortion, and you should start using birth control immediately to prevent pregnancy.

Before your abortion, your healthcare professional will be able to speak to you to discuss your birth control options.

If your first choice isn't available to you for suitability reasons, you may wish to start on another form of contraception at first and switch to your preferred method later.

However, most methods will likely be available to you after a medical abortion and will be effective immediately or within the next few days.

You may wish to start on hormonal contraceptive methods such as the pill, implant or injection at the time of your abortion.

IUD insertion can be done immediately or a few days after the completion of the abortion.

If you need to wait to have this done, you will need to use another contraceptive method in the meantime to prevent pregnancy.

Does breastfeeding work as contraception?

Breastfeeding may stop ovulation and prevent you from getting pregnant.

However, this doesn't mean every woman who breastfeeds will benefit from this, as it's quite an exact science.

The Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) only works when you breastfeed your baby at least every four hours during the day and every six hours at night.

It is also only effective for the first six months postpartum or until your period returns.

Still, even within this time frame, if you're not following the four-hour and six-hour guidelines, you may start ovulating and get pregnant.

This isn't a very reliable method of birth control, and you likely won't know if you've ovulated, so it's best to speak to your doctor and perhaps consider another form of birth control.

Other forms of contraception

There are many other contraception choices that you may not have considered previously other than the pill or perhaps a hormonal IUD.

Copper IUD

The copper IUD works just like the hormonal IUD. However, instead of using the hormone progestin, it uses copper to create an environment where sperm cannot survive.

The copper IUD is 99 per cent effective, and many women love it as it doesn't release any hormones and can be kept in place for up to 10 years.

It also doesn't carry the risk of side effects such as blood clots related to hormonal birth control methods.

This form of birth control can even be used as emergency contraception if inserted within five days after unprotected sex.

However, a copper IUD isn't for everyone, and some side effects include bleeding between periods, cramps, severe menstrual pain and heavy bleeding.

On the other hand, a hormonal intrauterine device can decrease menstrual bleeding after three or more months of use, and about 20 per cent of women will stop having periods after one year.

It can also reduce severe menstrual pain and pain related to endometriosis and the risk of pelvic infection and the risk of endometrial cancer.

Speak with your doctor about whether or not a copper IUD is right for you.

Injection

The birth control injection contains a type of hormone similar to progestin that prevents ovulation.

You only need to get the injection once every three months, and it can be done right after childbirth, but only if you don't plan on breastfeeding.

The injection suppresses ovulation and thickens the cervical mucus which prevents sperm from reaching the egg.

It can also decrease menstrual cramps and pain, lessens menstrual blood flow, and can even stop menstruation in some cases.

It's not for everyone and shouldn't be used if you have breast cancer, liver disease, a history of depression or other health conditions.

Chat with your doctor to find out if this is the correct form of birth control for you.

Contraceptive implant

The contraceptive implant is another long-term birth control option to prevent pregnancy.

The implant is a flexible plastic rod that is about the size of a matchstick and inserted under the skin of the upper arm.

It releases a low and steady dose of a progestational hormone, which thickens the cervical mucus and thins the uterus lining. They also usually suppress ovulation.

These can be removed at any time, with fertility also returning soon after, and it contains no estrogen, so it will not interfere with your milk supply if you're exclusively breastfeeding.

Implants may not be for everyone, and your doctor may discourage their use if you have had medical conditions such as serious blood clots, a heart attack or stroke, or other health issues such as liver disease, breast cancer and more.

Barrier methods

Barrier methods of birth control are not as effective at preventing pregnancy as other methods and must be worn every time you have sex.

These types of birth control act as a barrier to keep a man's sperm from reaching the woman's egg, with some also protecting against sexually transmitted infections (STIs).

Both female condoms and male condoms are the only forms of birth control that protect against sexually transmitted diseases, and when used correctly, they can be 98 per cent effective at stopping pregnancy.

However, there is still a risk of STI when using a female condom or a male condom, and if it should break or come off during sexual intercourse, you could still fall pregnant.

Diaphragms are small, reusable rubber or silicone cups that cover the cervix and are inserted before sex. It can be inserted up to six hours before sex and left in place for 24 hours.

However, because sperm can live for several hours, the diaphragm must be left in place for at least six hours after sex.

These are not as effective at preventing pregnancy as other methods of birth control.

For example, they are 86 per cent effective with perfect use, but they are 82 per cent effective with typical usage.

It's usually recommended that a nurse or doctor checks your insertion technique and that the diaphragm properly fits over your cervix.

Again, this method is not recommended for every woman and should be discussed with your healthcare professional.

The rhythm method

The rhythm method is another form of preventing pregnancy but is a natural one that sees you track your menstrual history to predict when you're ovulating.

It can also determine the best days to have sex to get pregnant.

However, if you're using the rhythm method for birth control, it requires meticulous record-keeping, and if you don't want to get pregnant, you must avoid having sex or use a barrier method of birth control during your fertile days.

Some women may prefer the rhythm method due to religious reasons or if a complex medical history limits their birth control options.

While the rhythm method doesn't pose any direct risks, it is considered the least effective form of birth control, and almost 25 per cent of women who use it will become pregnant in the first year.

You will also be unprotected from any STIs.

If you know for sure that you don't want any more children, another option is tubal ligation. This is a permanent method that sees your fallopian tubes tied, cut or blocked, thus preventing pregnancy.

The process prevents an egg from travelling from the ovaries and through the fallopian tubes. It also prevents sperm from reaching the egg.

The procedure won't have any impact on your menstrual cycle.

Tubal ligation is, in most cases, not reversible so it's something to have a serious think about when it comes to family planning!

If you're simply looking for a convenient and easy form of contraceptive, The Pill by Kin is a super handy service that means you'll never be without birth control.

References

https://www.webmd.com/sex/birth-control/birth-control-after-pregnancy

https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/contraception/when-contraception-after-baby/

https://www.health.harvard.edu/blog/birth-control-right-after-having-a-baby-why-its-important-why-it-should-be-covered-2016083110200

https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/319424

https://www.acog.org/womens-health/faqs/postpartum-birth-control

https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/12308930/

https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/Contraception-after-an-abortion

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/paragard/about/pac-20391270

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/mirena/about/pac-20391354

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/depo-provera/about/pac-20392204

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/contraceptive-implant/about/pac-20393619

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/condoms/about/pac-20385063

https://www.fpnsw.org.au/factsheets/individuals/contraception/contraceptive-diaphragm

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/rhythm-method/about/pac-20390918

https://www.mayoclinic.org/tests-procedures/tubal-ligation/about/pac-20388360