Thursday, April 18, 2024

Postnatal Contraception

This is an INFORMATION page, verified by physician

Having just given birth, love and romance may be the last thing on your mind. You are probably feeling sore and exhausted. Your baby is occupying every waking moment. But you’ll be amazed at how quick your body will get back to normal and postnatal contraception may become a topic.

After delivery, you will be bleeding initially but the loss, known as lochia, will slow down. It will become a brown loss then turn to a yellow and gradually clear discharge and then finally stop. This can take anywhere between three and six weeks.

If you are breastfeeding and your periods haven’t returned, this can be used as a form of contraception. But if it’s important to you not to get pregnant again don’t rely on this, you may want to look into postnatal contraception. Mixing breast and bottle? Introducing solids? Or even mixing breastfeeding and expressing milk? Then you cannot rely on this as a form of contraception. You could have some condoms available. Or talk to your GP or obstetrician about contraception. Once breastfeeding is established, starting the pill again won’t affect your milk production and doesn’t pass over to the baby.

If you are bottle feeding you do not have any natural contraception. Your fertility can return very soon after birth. You can release an egg two weeks before you have a period so you don’t have any warning of your fertility returning. If you aren’t breastfeeding the first egg release can happen as soon as three weeks after giving birth. It is possible to get pregnant straight away even without having a period.

Having two pregnancies very close together isn’t a good idea. There isn’t time for your body to recover from the first pregnancy. This means the chance of having a small for dates baby or an early birth are increased if you fall pregnant within a year of delivery.
There are lots of options for contraception following birth. These include:

  • Contraceptive pills
  • Condoms
  • Coils
  • The implant

The best person to advise you is either your obstetrician or your GP. It’s worth having a supply of condoms at home in case you haven’t had time to arrange a doctor’s appointment and romance is in the air.

More Advice on Postnatal Contraception

It’s also worth checking out help, advice, and any postnatal contraception posts in our Baby Facebook Group. It allows you to ask questions, gain access to basic advice and share experiences with others facing the same new experiences. You can join here:

about the author

Dr Lisa Joels
Dr Lisa Joels
OBSTETRICIAN & GYNAECOLOGIST - Dr Lisa Joels (MB ChB, MD, FRCOG, FHEA) has 34 years’ experience in obstetrics and gynaecology including 19 years as a Consultant working in Swansea (2001-11) and subsequently at the Royal Devon & Exeter NHS Foundations Trust in the UK (2011-20). These are both University teaching hospitals, each having more than 4,000 deliveries a year and providing tertiary obstetric and neonatal services as well as gynaecological services to their local population. Dr Joels has experience in management of complex obstetric and gynaecological problems including a multi-disciplinary approach and working closely with related specialties such as midwifery, neonatology, paediatrics and anaesthetics. She believes in a woman-centred holistic approach to clinical management and is an advocate for patient choice and shared decision making.
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