If you’re a new mum, having another baby might be the last thing on your mind. This is why it’s so important to know the facts when it comes to contraception. Many parents don’t realise it, but it’s possible to become pregnant as little as three weeks after the birth of a baby, so this isn’t an issue you can afford to ignore.
Fortunately, help is at hand. You can get plenty of information and advice on this subject from your GP or health visitor, or online from medical service providers like Online Doctor Lloyds Pharmacy. Meanwhile, this brief guide should help you get to grips with the basics.
Depending on your circumstances, breastfeeding may stop you from getting pregnant. This is because when you are breastfeeding, you may experience lactational amenorrhoea, which means you won’t have periods. However, this method is only reliable if you have no periods at all, your baby is less than six months old and you breastfeed fully, providing no or very little formula.
Barrier methods – condoms and diaphragms
Another option is to rely on barrier methods like male and female condoms or diaphragms. As long as you use these contraceptives properly, they are effective in preventing pregnancy. One of the benefits of these methods is the fact they that can be used regardless of whether you’re breastfeeding or not.
The combined pill may be the most popular form of contraception, but it isn’t suitable for all new mothers. This is because it can reduce the flow of milk, meaning it’s not an option if you want to breastfeed. However, if you’re feeding your baby formula, you can start taking the pill 21 days after you give birth. If you do this, you’ll be protected straight away. Alternatively, if you start taking the pill later, you’ll need to use additional contraception (like condoms) for the next seven days.
Unlike the combined pill, the progesterone-only pill (or mini pill) does not affect milk flow, so you can start taking this even if you’re breastfeeding. A small amount of progesterone will pass to your baby, but this is harmless. Like the combined pill, you should start taking this 21 days after the birth. If you start later, you’ll need additional contraception for two days. Bear in mind though, to be effective, the mini pill has to be taken at the same time each day and it can be difficult to remember this when you’re looking after a newborn.
If you don’t want the hassle of using barrier methods or of remembering to take pills every day, there are other options. For example, the contraceptive injection lasts for 12 or 13 weeks and, if you aren’t breastfeeding, it can be used any time after you give birth. If you are breastfeeding, it is usually given after six weeks.
The implant is worth considering too. This method lasts for three years and it is usually fitted three weeks after the birth. Like the injection, it is safe to use the implant while you are breastfeeding.
You might also be interested in the intrauterine system (IUS) or intrauterine device (IUD). The IUS works for three or five years, while the IUD is effective for five to 10 years. Both of these contraceptives can usually be fitted four to six weeks after giving birth and they won’t affect your milk supply.
As long as you know the facts when it comes to using contraception as a new mum, you should be able to make the right choice for you and your family.
Which method of contraception did you choose after having children? Did you feel you made the right choice?
This is a promotional post with images from Jenny Lee Silver, Aurimas Mikalauskas and Gallery Hip.