Talking to your doctor about birth control at your postpartum visit

Your Body & Wellbeing   |   Age: 4 weeks 2 days

Talking to your doctor about birth control at your postpartum visit

It’s been a while - probably at least nine months - since you’ve had to think about birth control, but now that your baby is out in the world, breathing oxygen and learning to wiggle her toes, you may be physically able to become pregnant again already, even if you haven’t had your period yet. This makes your upcoming postpartum appointment a great time for you to talk about contraception with your doctor before you have the kind of sex that can make a baby again.

Your body after giving birth

Healthcare professionals recommend waiting to have sex after delivery for a while to give the cervix time to close, for any tears from delivery to heal, and for postpartum bleeding to stop. Most healthcare providers give new parents the go-ahead for sex at the postpartum checkup four to six weeks after delivery, which makes this visit a great time to talk about contraception, if you have not already started or chosen a method.

Maybe you haven’t started your period again after giving birth, but that doesn’t mean you couldn’t get pregnant yet. Many new moms have their first period after giving birth as early as 6 to 8 weeks after delivery. But when your period arrives, it shows that you’ve already been able to become pregnant. Ovulation, the stage of the menstrual cycle when you can get pregnant, happens before menstruation.

Postpartum contraception is important even to new parents who are planning to have more children. New moms are able to become pregnant again soon after giving birth, but babies who are conceived 18 months after their older siblings, or sooner, are at a higher risk for preterm birth, and low birth weight, and moms who are pregnant for the second time in 18 months or less have a higher risk of health complications related to pregnancy.

Types of contraception

Having a new baby around can make some types of contraception - like the pill - feel less convenient than they might have before. After all, if you’re sleeping whenever your baby sleeps, and she hasn’t quite caught on to day-night circadian rhythms yet, taking a pill at the same time every day can get tricky. If you feel confident continuing to use the contraception you’re used to, that’s great, though it’s still a good idea to talk through your choice with your doctor.

If you think this might be a good time to explore other birth control options, though, there are several very effective options that can be convenient for new parents.

There’s no rush to have sex after having a baby before you’re ready - your body has just been through a series of big changes, and there’s no predicting how soon you’ll find yourself ready for sex. When you do, though, having a plan in place for birth control can be a great way to make sure your family is growing at a speed you’re ready for.

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