Although the menstrual cycle may not return for up to a year or more for those who are exclusively breastfeeding, most women notice their cycles returning far earlier. If you aren’t breastfeeding, this could be as soon as 5 or 6 weeks after giving birth. Getting pregnant within 18 months of giving birth is linked to negative health outcomes, so healthcare providers recommend using an effective form of contraception (birth control) during this time.
One of the most safe, effective, and low-maintenance forms of birth control are intrauterine devices (IUDs). IUDs can be inserted immediately after giving birth, which makes them a great choice to consider as you approach delivery day.
Many women report easier experiences with IUD insertions after giving birth, which makes immediate IUD insertion after delivery a popular choice. Leaving the hospital with an effective, long-term, and reversible form of birth control ensures that you’ll have as much control over your family planning decisions as possible.
IUDs can last for years; 3-7 on average, but some up to 12! They can be removed at any time, and aren’t linked to any major risk of infection or infertility. There are two types of IUDs—hormonal and copper—and they work a bit differently from one another. Hormonal IUDs use a hormone similar to one you might find in a birth control pill or implant. This hormone (called progestin) prevents pregnancy by thickening the cervical mucus so sperm cannot travel to an egg and thinning the lining of the uterus. Copper IUDs prevent sperm’s ability to move around the uterus and fertilize an egg. Both, however, are more than 99% effective at preventing pregnancy.
If you don’t get an IUD inserted after delivery, it’s possible to get one in the weeks or months after—many women get IUDs at or around their 6-week postpartum visit. Many primary care providers also insert IUDs at their offices.
Preventing pregnancy in the months after giving birth is one of the best things you can do for your and your family’s health. Making postpartum birth control plans is just another box to check off during the last weeks and months of pregnancy—you should make sure to speak with your healthcare provider about postpartum birth control if you haven’t already.
- “Ask the Doctor: Is Placing an IUD Immediately after Delivery Safe?” Harvard Health, www.health.harvard.edu/womens-health/ask-the-doctor-is-placing-an-iud-immediately-after-delivery-safe.
- ACOG Committee Opinion. “Optimizing postpartum care.” ACOG. American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, May 2018. Web. https://www.acog.org/Clinical-Guidance-and-Publications/Committee-Opinions/Committee-on-Obstetric-Practice/Optimizing-Postpartum-Care?IsMobileSet=false.
- “What’s an IUD Insertion like?” Planned Parenthood, www.plannedparenthood.org/learn/birth-control/iud/whats-an-iud-insertion-like.