Birth Control After Baby? Know Your Options

By Jordan Coauette, MD Jan 13, 2017


You’ve just welcomed a new baby. Congratulations! While you are loving those newborn snuggles, you want to wait a bit before welcoming another member into the family. Depending on your future plans, there are a number of birth control options available to you after giving birth.

Oral contraceptive pill (OCP)

  • Can be started at three weeks after giving birth as long as you are not breastfeeding
  • The combined pill (estrogen plus a progestin) can decrease breast milk production so should not be started until at least six weeks postpartum.
  • The progestin-only pill does not affect milk supply and can be used during breastfeeding. It makes a great choice for breastfeeding moms.

Contraceptive patch or vaginal ring

  • Similar to the combined OCP; start at three weeks if not breastfeeding or six weeks if breastfeeding

Injection Depo-Provera™

  • Injection every three months
  • Can be given immediately postpartum regardless of breastfeeding
  • No known effects on breast milk

Intrauterine device or extremity implant

  • Inserted by a doctor more than six weeks after delivery
  • Reliable, long-term birth control for up to three to 10 years but can be removed at any time

Barrier methods

  • Hormone-free, only needed when you are actually having sex
  • Condoms can be used anytime, and are commonly used temporarily while breastfeeding or to space out babies
  • Use non-spermicidal condoms with lots of extra water-based lubricant to avoid vaginal irritation
  • Diaphragms and cervical caps need to be re-fitted at six weeks postpartum

Emergency contraception

  • Emergency contraception (EC) pills are effective up to five days after unprotected intercourse but best if used within the first 24 to 48 hours.
  • Emergency IUD is available up to seven days after unprotected intercourse.

Don’t forget to protect yourself from pregnancy until you are ready for another child, as well as using condoms for infection protection if this is a new relationship.