Contraception after pregnancy

Contraception after pregnancy

How to choose effective contraception after childbirth

Post-natal contraceptive choices

It’s possible to become pregnant again very soon after the birth of a baby, even if you are breastfeeding and even if your periods have not returned.  If you do not wish to become pregnant again, contraception will be needed after your baby reaches the age of 21 days.

If you are pregnant and are planning on delivering at the Royal Sussex County Hospital (RSCH) or the Princess Royal Hospital (PRH), contraception after birth will be discussed at your 28-week appointment.  If you have decided on a method, this can be added to your birth plan at your 34-week appointment.

What if I don’t know which contraceptive method to choose?

We have virtual contraception appointments where you can discuss all the different options available to you with one of our contraception nurses over the phone. To book a virtual contraception appointment call us on 01273 523 388

Phone line opening times:
Monday 9.15am to 4.30pm
Tuesday 9.15am to 4.30pm
Wednesday 12.30pm to 4.30pm
Thursday 9.15am to 4.30pm
Friday 9.15am to 4.30pm

*Phone lines are closed on Bank Holidays

When can I start contraception after giving birth?

There are a range of methods of contraception available after giving birth with different timeframes for when they can be started.

Contraception choices immediately after birth

Contraception that can be started on the labour or post-natal ward at RSCH and PRH:

If you have an IUD (coil) fitted immediately after giving birth your midwife will refer you to Brighton SHAC for a follow up appointment 6 weeks after the fit.  This is for an ultrasound scan to check the position of the device and a check to ensure that the threads are the correct length.  If we receive this referral, we will contact you to make the appointment.

Contraception that can be started immediately after birth from Brighton SHAC and your GP ( not available at all GPs):

Contact your GP, or book an appointment for a contraceptive implant fitting or contraceptive injection with Brighton SHAC by calling 01273 523 388

Contraception that can be started 3 weeks after birth

If you’re not breastfeeding (and a healthcare professional has checked your medical, pregnancy and delivery history for any contraindications) you can start to use the:

Contact your GP or book a contraception appointment with Brighton SHAC by calling us on 01273 523 388

Contraception that can be started 4 weeks after birth

If you did not have an IUD (coil) inserted within 48 hours of birth, you can have one inserted from 4 weeks after birth. Contact your GP or Brighton SHAC for an IUD fitting by calling 01273 523 388. If there is a delay in getting this fitted do consider another form of contraception to bridge you until your IUD can be fitted.

Contraception that can be started 6 weeks after birth

If you are breastfeeding or had certain medical conditions during pregnancy or complications at delivery, you’ll need to wait until at least 6 weeks before you can use the:

  • Combined contraceptive pill
  • Contraceptive ring
  • Contraceptive patch

Discuss with your GP at your 6-week check or book a contraception appointment with Brighton SHAC by calling us on 01273 523 388

Are some forms of contraception better than others after giving birth?

The most reliable and effective forms of contraception are Long-Acting Reversible Contraception (LARCs).  In order of effectiveness these are the contraceptive implant, hormonal IUD (coil), copper IUD (coil), and contraceptive injection.

Does contraception affect breastfeeding?

The current evidence shows that progesterone only contraceptive methods (contraceptive implant, hormonal IUD (coil), contraceptive injection and progesterone only pill) have no adverse effects on breastfeeding.

Women who are breastfeeding should wait until six weeks after childbirth to start any combined hormonal methods (combined contraceptive pill, patch or ring).  There is currently limited evidence on the effects of combined hormonal contraception methods on breastfeeding.  However, the studies that have been done found no adverse effects on breastfeeding.

Can breastfeeding be used as a form of natural contraception?

If your baby is less than six months old, you are fully breastfeeding and you haven’t had a period then the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) is a highly effective contraception.  The risk of pregnancy using LAM increases if the frequency of breastfeeding decreases, if your periods return or if your baby is more than six months old.