Birth control planning after pregnancy

by Kaiser Permanente |
Smiling woman applying birth control patch to arm.

It’s helpful to plan ahead and consider what type of birth control you’d like to start using once you feel ready to have sex again after giving birth. There are lots of birth control methods available. Which one you use depends on your personal preferences, medical history, and lifestyle. No matter your needs, there’s a birth control method for you. 

You may have heard that if you’ve just had a baby or are breastfeeding, you can’t get pregnant. Mothers who have recently given birth and those who are breastfeeding can indeed get pregnant again. This can be a health risk to you and the baby if you become pregnant again so soon after birth. 

Talk with your clinician about your plans for healing from birth and having sex again. This can help pinpoint your desires for contraception. Your clinician can help you pick the option that’s best for you. In many cases, your clinician can even have the birth control method ready at your birth. 

Birth control options

You should choose a birth control method that fits your lifestyle and will be easy for you to maintain. Here are the different types of birth control:

  • Long-acting reversible contraception (LARC): These are the most effective (99%) methods of birth control. If you decide you want to get pregnant again, your clinician can remove any of the LARC methods and you can try to get pregnant right away. 

  • Arm implant is a small, flexible plastic rod placed just under the skin of the inner side of your upper arm. The implant lasts for 3 to 5 years. It contains hormones.

  • Hormonal IUD (intrauterine device) is a small, flexible T-shaped plastic device that’s placed inside your uterus. It works for up to 3 to 7 years. It also contains low levels of hormones.

  • Copper IUD (intrauterine device) is a small, flexible T-shaped plastic device wrapped in a tiny bit of copper that’s placed inside your uterus. It works up to 10 to 12 years. There are no hormones in copper IUDs. 

  • Common hormonal methods: Birth control pills, patches, vaginal rings, and the Depo-Provera shot all release hormones that help prevent pregnancy.

  • Barrier methods: Cervical caps, condoms, vaginal gel, spermicide, and diaphragms must be used every time you have sex.

  • Emergency contraception: This should only be used as a backup method of preventing pregnancy. Your clinician can prescribe this. You can also find emergency contraceptive pills over the counter at a pharmacy.

You can get condoms and some emergency contraceptives with no prescription. However, you’ll need to see your clinician for hormonal birth control, and placement of LARCs, or methods such as a diaphragm or cervical cap. 

Postpartum tubal ligation

A postpartum tubal ligation is also known as getting your tubes tied. It’s permanent, so it’s a good choice if you’re sure you don’t want any more children. 

Your physician can perform this procedure at the same time as a Cesarean birth (C-section). Or, your clinician can help by making a small incision in your abdomen later on. Through this incision, the tubes between your ovaries and your uterus are cut and tied off. These tubes are called fallopian tubes. It might be possible for you to go home the same day you have this procedure.

There is still a very small chance of pregnancy within the first year after you’ve had this procedure.  Also, as with any surgery, infection or bleeding is possible. You should contact your doctor quickly if you notice any bleeding, pain, redness, or swelling around the incision after having a tubal ligation. 

No matter what form of birth control you choose, know that you can start them right away after birth and your care team will readily support your choice. 

This article has been created by a national group of Kaiser Permanente ob-gyns, certified nurse-midwives, pediatricians, lactation consultants and other specialists who came together to provide you with the best pregnancy, birth, postpartum, and newborn information.

Some of the content is used and adapted with permission of The Permanente Medical Group.