If you’re a new parent, birth control may not be the first thing on your mind. For many, sex may even seem like an impossibility as you get used to the new routine of having a baby to feed, clothe, change, and keep happy.
But chances are still good that, eventually, you and your partner are going to want to have sex again. And yes, it does happen. Eventually.
Though this may surprise you, you should start planning what birth control method you want to use before you give birth. This way, you are prepared for when you and your partner are ready to have sex again.
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, you can become pregnant within a few weeks of giving birth. And most doctors recommend only a 4 to 6 week waiting period before you are cleared for sex.
Still, there are several considerations you should think about when choosing the right birth control method for you, such as whether or not you’re breastfeeding, how soon you want to have another baby, if this baby completed your family, and so on. Let’s discuss some common considerations.
If you choose to breastfeed your baby, you can and should still use birth control. You have the option of choosing between a variety of birth control methods, including some hormonal methods.
You may have heard that if you breastfeed your baby, you can’t become pregnant. Though there is some truth to this, it’s also a bit of an exaggeration.
The fact is, you can become pregnant when breastfeeding unless you meet very specific criteria. You should still use birth control if you want to prevent an unplanned pregnancy.
One of the biggest considerations is that combined oral contraceptives that include estrogen may increase your risk of a blood clot during your postpartum period. This risk falls after about 6 weeks. There’s also some evidence that this type of birth control may affect your breast milk supply.
For these reasons, you and your doctor may decide that hormonal contraception methods that use only progestin only are a better option. These can be taken a variety of ways, such as in pill form or as a shot. They’re safe to use at any time during breastfeeding, according to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
If you’re not comfortable with hormonal birth control methods, you can safely use an IUD, condoms, or other barrier methods while breastfeeding with no ill effects for your baby.
If you were used to taking the pill prior to becoming pregnant and are planning to resume it following your pregnancy, you may want to consider other options.
Having a baby is a major change in your life, so it’s important to consider whether you’ll remember to take the pill as consistently as you did pre-baby. According to the Mayo Clinic, taking the pill exactly as directed gives you a 99 percent effective rate. They also recommend that if you skip taking it one or more times during a cycle, you should use backup birth control since that effectiveness drops during that cycle.
If you’ve had trouble in the past with taking the pill on time or missing doses, you may want to consider alternative forms of birth control. An intrauterine device (IUD) or Depo-Provera (depo shot) are two long-term solutions that don’t require daily doses to be effective.
If you plan to use the pill, you may want to set reminders in your phone or calendar so that you don’t miss a dose, which can be easy to do with a new baby to care for. You may also want to keep other forms of birth control, such as condoms, on hand in case you forget your pill.
If you’re considering having another child, you may want to consider how soon you want to try again. Some hormonal birth control methods require at least a few weeks to several months of wait time between when you stop them and when you can start to try again.
For example, according to the Mayo Clinic, you may be able to start trying to conceive within 2 weeks of stopping the pill, which is not a long time period. However, if you plan to use Depo-Provera injections, the prescribing information indicates this could cause a delay of up to 18 months before you can conceive.
If you want to get pregnant soon after your baby is born, you may want to consider barrier methods, such as condoms, non-hormonal IUDs, or hormonal methods such as the pill, patch, or ring. When you stop using these methods, you could get pregnant right away.
You may not be ready after your first baby to opt for a permanent form of birth control. Or you might have decided not to have any more babies. If you know you’re done with having more babies, you could choose a permanent solution such as a vasectomy or tubal ligation.
But before you consider these options, you should be ready to no longer have any more babies. If you’re considering these options, it’s important to know the difference between the two methods.
A vasectomy is typically an in-and-out procedure for a man. The procedure prevents sperm from entering the semen before it is ejaculated from the penis.
According to the Urology Care Foundation, there are minimal risks to a vasectomy and a man will typically recover within about a week. However, full sterilization could take 3 months or 20 ejaculates.
Tubal ligation involves cutting and blocking both fallopian tubes to prevent pregnancy. Though generally safe, a woman has some risk of complications such as ectopic pregnancy, not fully closed fallopian tubes, or damage to other abdominal organs. According to Johns Hopkins University, women can typically go home the same day and will recover within a few weeks.
There are many potential options to consider when choosing birth control following pregnancy. Ultimately, you should talk to your healthcare provider to help determine what options work best for your unique situation.
Jenna is the mom to an imaginative daughter who truly believes she’s a princess unicorn and that her younger brother is a dinosaur. Jenna’s other son was a perfect baby boy, born sleeping. Jenna writes extensively about health and wellness, parenting, and lifestyles. In a past life, Jenna worked as a certified personal trainer, Pilates and group fitness instructor, and dance teacher. She holds a bachelor’s degree from Muhlenberg College.