Pregnancy and you blog

Birth control after pregnancy: Think ahead

By Mary M. Murry, R.N., C.N.M. December 14, 2010

Being pregnant has many benefits. If you're currently in the stage of nausea or vomiting, it may be harder to see those benefits — and if you're close to your due date, you might think I've lost my mind! You could be right about my lost mind, but think about it. When you're pregnant, you don't have any periods and you don't have to worry about birth control!

Still, pregnancy is a good time to think about future birth control. There's no pressure and you have time to explore all of the options open to you. You can decide which method of birth control after pregnancy will be best for your body and your life.

In the weeks after delivery, you may feel most comfortable with complete abstinence. That's a perfectly appropriate choice. Your health care provider may even recommend avoiding sex for a certain period of time. Eventually, though, you'll want to have sex again.

If you're planning to breast-feed your baby, remember that breast-feeding by itself isn't a reliable method of birth control. You might consider:

  • Birth control pills. Combination birth control pills, which contain both estrogen and progestin, are a common type of birth control — but estrogen can affect your milk supply. A better choice during breast-feeding is the minipill, an oral contraceptive that contains only progestin. The minipill provides effective contraception without decreasing your milk supply.
  • Barrier methods. If you'd rather avoid hormonal contraceptives, you might consider condoms and spermicide or a diaphragm.

When you're no longer breast-feeding, you'll have many more options for birth control after pregnancy — such as other types of birth control pills, the vaginal ring, an intrauterine device (IUD), contraceptive implants or contraceptive patches. If you're not planning any future pregnancies, you might consider permanent options such as the Essure system, tubal ligation or a vasectomy for your partner. Do the research, check with your health care provider, and discuss it with your partner. After all, birth control is a shared responsibility.

Remember, too, that no decision is also a decision. If you don't use birth control, you're deciding that another pregnancy would be OK. If you don't want another baby right away, make another decision. Of course, if everyone used birth control all of the time, I'd be out of a job!

Share your stories about birth control after pregnancy.

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Dec. 14, 2010