Postpartum planning: talking to your doctor about birth control

It’s never too early to talk to your healthcare provider about your birth control options for after delivery. If you start planning now, you’ll have one less item to juggle when your sweet new bundle is here!

According to the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology, fertility returns quickly after delivery for many women – in fact, about one quarter of women are able to become pregnant again within 40 days of giving birth. 

Thinking about a sibling for your new little one is a very personal decision for any family, but there are health factors that are an important part of any family planning decision. Studies have found that waiting about 18 months before getting pregnant again decreases the risk of preterm delivery and other pregnancy complications. To avoid unintended pregnancy during this window, it’s a great idea to start thinking about birth control, and to talk about your options with your provider. Some providers will bring up contraception options during your prenatal visits, but others may not. You should always feel free to start this conversation with your provider during any visit.

When to talk to your doctor

It can be helpful to start to talk to your provider about postpartum contraception well before your due date. There are some methods that you may be able to get right after delivery (like an IUD or implant), so it is a great idea to talk with your provider ahead of time. If you don’t get the chance to talk about it before your baby is born, your six-week postpartum check-up is another great time to talk about birth control.

Exploring your options

There are many types of birth control that are effective and safe for postpartum and breastfeeding people to use. Since your doctor has followed your health through your pregnancy, they can help make sure that the birth control method you choose is safe for you. There are several methods that can be used right after delivery, and having this conversation now can help you get everything settled early on, so you don’t have to think about it later.

Now is a great time to explore options you may not have used in the past. You may find that birth control methods that seemed easy to use before, like birth control pills, are more difficult to manage after you have your baby, so it’s important to imagine your postpartum self while making this decision. If you’re planning on sticking with a method that requires some daily diligence, you might want to set an alarm to remind yourself to take it (and to wake yourself up from a much-needed, postpartum nap).

Having these conversations early on is a great way to make sure you have as little as possible to worry about by the time Baby comes along.

  • Pamela Berens, Miriam Labbock. “ABM clinical protocol #13: contraception during breastfeeding, revised 2015.” 10(1). 2015. Retrieved July 13 2018.
  • E.A. DeFranco, S. Ehrlich, L.J. Muglia. “Influence of interpregnancy interval on birth spacing.” BJOG. 121(13): 1633-1640. June 4 2014. Retrieved July 13 2018.
  • Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report, CDC. “Update to CDC’s U.S. medical eligibility criteria for contraceptive use, 2010: revised recommendations for the use of contraceptive methods during the postpartum period.” 60(26): 878-883. July 8 2011. Retrieved July 13 2018.
  • Lauren B. Zapata, et al. “Contraceptive counseling and postpartum contraceptive use.” American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology
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