postpartum birth control

After the delivery of your baby you may want to wait a couple years before trying to get pregnant again. If this is the case, many mothers want to know more about postpartum  birth control options. To prevent another pregnancy, birth control needs to be started by the 6 week postpartum visit. It’s helpful to discuss with your doctor the various birth control options several weeks before the delivery of your baby.

Whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle feed your newborn baby there are many options for postpartum birth control  Here is a summary of some of the most common birth control options you can use after delivering a baby.

  • Sterilization. Tubal ligation is available for women who do not wish to have any more children. Although tubal ligation can sometimes be reversed, this method of contraception should be considered permanent. Because tubal ligation is a surgical procedure, you will need to discuss this option with your obstetrician several weeks before you expect to deliver your baby.
  • Birth control pills. There are combination birth control pills (mix of estrogen and progesterone) and progesterone only pills that have been approved for postpartum birth control.  The mini pill or progesterone only pills are the only method of birth control recommended for breastfeeding women.
  • Birth control patch. Birth control patches can be placed on the stomach, buttocks, or upper arm to provide similar protection against unwanted pregnancies as birth control pills. One patch releases hormones through your skin for 7 days. One patch is used each week for 3 weeks and then no patch is used during the final week of the cycle to allow for the menstrual period. This method is not recommended for breastfeeding mothers until the baby has turned 6 months old and is fully established on solid foods.
  • Barrier methods. Methods like condoms (with spermicide), diaphragms, and cervical caps are considered safe and effective methods to use during the postpartum period. Diaphragms and cervical caps will need to be refitted at your 6 week postpartum visit to protect against future pregnancies. When used correctly, barrier methods can be as much as 98% effective.
  • Monthly injection. Lunelle is a birth control monthly injection that is over 99% effective. Lunelle is also convenient because you do not have to remember to take a pill every day. Lunelle is not recommended for breastfeeding mothers until the baby is at least 6 months old and fully established on solid foods.
  • Vaginal ring. The NuvaRing is a flexible plastic ring that is inserted into the vagina at the beginning of the monthly cycle. The ring releases a combination of estrogen and progesterone over 3 weeks and then is removed for one week to allow for the menstrual period. The vaginal ring is not recommended for breastfeeding mothers until the baby is at least 6 months old and fully established on solid foods.
  • Depo Provera. Depo Provera is a birth control injection that is given 4 times a year (every 3 months). Since it is a progesterone only method of birth control it will not interfere with breastfeeding.
  • Implant Devices. The IUD is a popular choice for postpartum birth control. It is a small plastic device that is inserted into the uterus by your obstetrician. This method is for women who want long-term protection against future pregnancies. The IUD can be used when breastfeeding.

There are many postpartum birth control options available for women. It is important to discuss your individual and family planning needs with your obstetrician. Dr. Hessel is glad to answer any questions you have about postpartum contraception. Please call her office today to schedule an appointment.

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