You might be considering birth control after delivery, or maybe you have already made up your mind, and you are wondering which one to choose. You are in the right place. The following guide will help you choose the right birth control.

Why is it recommended to use birth control after giving birth?

Suppose you do not want to get pregnant right after having a baby. In that case, you need to think about an effective contraception method because it’s possible to get pregnant even before your period returns. Small birth intervals increase the risk for pregnancy complications such as premature labor, smaller babies, and infant and mother mortality.
A study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the University of British Columbia in 2018 concludes that women should wait at least 12 months before getting pregnant again. (1)
Using birth control will help you lower your risk of getting pregnant too soon and allow your body to heal.

Plan ahead, talk to your OB-GYN and do your research.

Whether you are still pregnant or just had your baby, it’s not too early to plan your birth control. It’s even better to talk to your healthcare provider and have a clear idea of what you will use before delivering your baby. The first weeks of postpartum can be overwhelming, especially if it’s your first baby. Between feedings, diapers changing, you won’t have time to think about birth control. Even if you are pretty sure you won’t be into sex during postpartum, well, things can happen!
So do your research and go through it with your ob-gyn, and then you can decide.

What are the different types of birth control?

Let’s go through the different types of contraceptives.

Barrier Methods

  • Male condoms and Female condoms prevent pregnancy by blocking the sperm from entering the vagina. They are the only type of birth control that also protect from sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Spermicides are substances that prevent pregnancy by destroying the sperm before they reach an egg. Use alone; spermicides are not effective. They have around 28% of failure.
  • Diaphragms are dome-shaped silicone cups you can insert in your vagina before sex to cover your cervix. It is used as a barrier to stop the sperm from joining an egg. For a diaphragm to be effective, you need to use it with spermicide.
  • The cervical cap is shaped like a sailor’s hat and works the same way as a diaphragm. But the cervical cap is smaller and can be left longer. It also has to be used with spermicide to work best.

Hormonal Methods

Hormonal contraceptives contain two female hormones, estrogen and progestin, which keep your ovaries from releasing an egg. They also thicken the cervical mucus and thin the uterus(endometrium), which keeps the sperm from joining the egg. Here are the hormonal methods.

  • Oral pills or oral contraceptives¬†are pills you take by mouth every day to prevent pregnancy. There is also a type of oral contraceptives call mini-pill, which contains only progestin.
  • The patch is a small, sticky square you wear on your belly, upper arm, butt, or back, and your skin absorbs the hormones into your body. They are used once a week for three weeks.
  • Vaginal rings are small, latex-free flexible, plastic rings that you insert in the vagina. The hormones in the ring are absorbed into the blood system from the walls of the vagina. The vaginal ring must be replaced every month and left in place for three weeks.
  • Contraceptive injectable lasts for 12 to 14 weeks, so you need to get a new shot every three months.
  • A contraceptive implant is a tiny, thin plastic rod about a matchstick’s size placed under the upper arm’s skin. The contraceptive implant contains progestin and prevents pregnancy for up to three years.
  • The hormonal IUD (Intra-Uterine Device) is a T-shaped device put into your uterus to prevent pregnancy. The hormonal IUD contains progestin that is released in your body over several years.
  • Emergency pills are used only as a backup plan to prevent pregnancy after unprotected sex or regular birth control failure. The emergency pills do not end a pregnancy that has implanted. They work primarily by delaying ovulation. They contain a high dose of hormones and can be taken up to 5 days after having sex, but the sooner you take it, the better it works.

Non-hormonal IUD

Copper IUD (Paragard) is also a T-shaped intrauterine device with a plastic frame inserted into the uterus to prevent pregnancy. Unlike the hormonal IUD, Paragard has a Copper wire coiled around the device, which creates a toxic environment for sperm and eggs.

Permanent methods

  • Tubal ligation is commonly known as “getting tubes tied.” It is a surgery done to cut or block your fallopian tubes permanently. The fallopian tubes are the paths between the uterus and the ovaries. If your tubes are tied, when your ovaries release the egg every month, it can’t be reached by the sperm to be fertilized and lead to pregnancy. This method is permanent, so unless you know with certainty that you do not want to have children in the future, you shouldn’t do it.
  • Vasectomy. Your partner can, on the other hand, choose to have a vasectomy. It is also a permanent method that prevents the sperm from joining the semen when he ejaculates. Thus there is no sperm in the semen to fertilize an egg.

Here are a few things you need to keep in mind when you want to make a choice

  • Some birth control, like the IUD, the tubal ligation, and the implants, can be done right after birth. You can schedule the procedure when you are still at the hospital, whether you deliver vaginally or by c-section. You can also wait until your first postpartum checkup.
  • If you choose to breastfeed, you need to wait at least four weeks for your milk supply to establish before using any hormonal birth control (pills, patch, vaginal ring) that contains estrogen because it can reduce your milk supply. (2) You can also opt for the mini-pill, which has only progestin.
  • You need to wait at least three weeks after delivery before using any hormonal birth control that contains estrogen because of blood clots’ risks. (2)
  • The cervical cap is less effective with women who deliver vaginally due to the cervix’s change after vaginal delivery.
  • You should also wait for about six weeks for the uterus and cervix to return to normal size before starting a cervical cap or a diaphragm. (3)
  • If you were using a cervical cap or a diaphragm before pregnancy, it might be necessary to have them refitted after your childbirth.

Some women choose to use breastfeeding as birth control. This method is called the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM). How does it work?

When your baby latches your breast, it sends a signal to your body to produce estrogen. The estrogen prevents your ovaries from releasing an egg. If there is no egg, it can’t be fertilized by a sperm. Is it really effective?
LAM is 98% effective if the following three conditions are met :

  • You must not have a period (amenorrhea)
  • Your baby should be less than six months old.
  • You exclusively breastfeed your baby on demand, every 4 to 6 hours day and night.

LAM does not work if there is one of these situations:

  • Your baby is more than six months old.
  • You use a breast pump.
  • Your period has returned.
  • You start giving your baby any other food than breast milk (Formula, solid food, drinks)

You need to use another method as a contraceptive.

Before you choose a birth control, it is essential to think carefully about your options. The best birth control is the one that is safe for you, easy to use, effective, and also takes into account your baby. Remember, if a method does not suit you, you can always contact your healthcare provider and explore another option.

References

  1. https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamainternalmedicine/fullarticle/2708196
  2. https://www.cdc.gov/reproductivehealth/contraception/mmwr/spr/combined.html
  3. https://www.acog.org/patient-resources/faqs/contraception/postpartum-birth-control
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About the Author

Hermione M.

My name is Hermione. I am the founder of WomenH and I write about women's health, wellness, mental health, and personal growth. I created this platform to inspire women to take care of themselves mentally, physically, and emotionally to become their best selves. Thank you for stopping by.

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