Birth Control Options After Baby
Although you are sooo in love with your new little bundle, I’m betting you aren’t quite prepared to have another right away. Most women aren’t aware of all the options for birth control they have after having a baby, but there are many available to you. Be sure to discuss with your doctor to determine the best method for you! Keep in mind, you must wait at least four weeks after delivery before using anything that contains estrogen, because it increases your risk for blood clots. Please note: I am not a medical professional. This is a brief overview of various options available to you for preventing pregnancy. Please do your own research and consult your physician to determine the best choice for you.
If you plan to breastfeed, then this is most likely what your OB will prescribe. It is a progestin-only form of oral contraceptive, so there isn’t a threat to your milk supply like with estrogen-packed pills. It works by thickening cervical mucus and thinning the uterine lining, which prevents the sperm from reaching the egg.
CON: The mini-pill must be taken at the same time every day for maximum effectiveness.
EFFECTIVENESS: When taken correctly, 99%. However, due to it needing to be taken at the same time every day, the rate is closer to 87%.
COMBINATION BIRTH CONTROL PILL
While there are many options of this available, they all contain a combination of estrogen and progestin, in varying doses. It works by preventing your ovaries from releasing an egg. The Pill is also used to help lessen the severity of menstrual cramps, improve acne, and decrease risk of ovarian cancer, among other things. It is usually prescribed in monthly dosing, but is also available in a continuous form, which reduces periods to 4 times per year.
CON: Shouldn’t be used if over 35 and a smoker, have high blood pressure, or are breastfeeding.
EFFECTIVENESS: 99.9% when taken correctly.
Pretty simple: It keeps sperm from entering the vagina. Condoms are easily available and affordable without requiring a prescription. They are also the only form of birth control effective at preventing STDs.
CON: They could break.
EFFECTIVENESS: 98% when used correctly
The contraceptive implant is a plastic rod that is placed under the skin of the upper arm, and can last up to 4 years. It releases a steady dose of progestin hormone, which thickens the cervical mucus and thins the uterine lining.
CON: Shouldn’t be used if you have a history of blood clots. Also, it may not be as effective for women with a BMI over 30.
IUD stands for Intrauterine Device, and like its' name suggests, is placed inside the uterus. It’s a T-shaped device that prevents the sperm from reaching and fertilizing the egg. Name brands you may be familiar with are Mirena, Kyleena, Skyla, and Liletta. These 4 contain progestin, similar to many birth control pills. A 5th IUD brand, ParaGuard, is made of copper, and is hormone free. The copper prevents pregnancy by triggering your immune system. IUDs are popular because they last 3-10 years (depending on the brand), and are hassle-free, for the most part.
CON: The procedure can be uncomfortable/painful, and there are instances of the device migrating over time which can be concerning. ParaGuard, in particular, can make periods heavier and cramping worse in the beginning.
NuvaRing is a flexible plastic ring inserted into the vagina that prevents pregnancy by releasing hormones into the body. It is left in for 3 weeks, then removed for 1 week to allow menstruation to occur.
CON: You have to insert it yourself, which can lead to user error. Also, the ring can break or fall out.
The Depo-Provera contraceptive injection contains progestin, and is given once every 3 months. It works by suppressing ovulation. It also decreases menstrual cramps and lessens blood flow.
CON: Once you stop the injections, it could take nearly a year or more to begin ovulating again. It also shouldn’t be used for longer than 2 years, due to the potential for bone mineral density loss.
NATURAL FAMILY PLANNING
This option requires you to become very familiar with your menstrual cycle and to chart your fertility pattern. Instead of using drugs or devices, you will rely on calendar tracking of your cycles, and measurements of basal body temperature and cervical mucus. These tools, when used together, help determine when your most fertile days are. This is when you would either abstain from sex, or use a backup method (condom).
CON: Every woman’s body is different, and you would need to become very in tune with yours in order for this to be a viable option.
EFFECTIVENESS: When used correctly and consistently, this could be as high as 90% effective. However, typical effectiveness is closer to 75%.
And finally, ONE BIG MYTH:
I know a lot of people think this is a viable birth control option, but it’s not. While breastfeeding typically keeps your period from returning for an extended period of time, you CAN still get pregnant even before your monthly friend returns.
While there are risks and side effects associated with each of the above options, it is up to you and your physician whether the good outweighs the bad, and which method will work best for you and your needs. As some of these are quite invasive, please do your research before committing to one!
Let me know in the comments which methods have or have not worked for you!