How soon after giving birth can you use contraception?
You can get pregnant as soon as three weeks after you give birth – this might surprise you but it's true; even if you're still breastfeeding and your periods haven't started again. This is because ovulation happens before your bleeding does.
Wait 6 weeks for combined hormonal contraception – if you are breastfeeding you’re recommended to wait at least 6 weeks after childbirth before using hormonal birth control that contains both oestrogen and progestin (e.g. the pill, the vaginal ring, the patch). It’s important you’re careful about this, since using them too soon after childbirth could put you at a high risk of dangerous blood clots. Talk to your doctor before making any decisions, as in some cases you might need to wait for longer or consider a different type of contraception altogether e.g. if you have other risk factors for blood clots, like a history of clots, being overweight or a smoker. If you are not breastfeeding then combined contraception can be started three weeks after childbirth, as long as you do not have any other risk factors.
Many other contraceptives can be started sooner – the other types of contraception, including the mini-pill, the implant and barrier methods can be started at any time after childbirth. The copper coil (IUD) or hormonal coil (IUS) can sometimes be fitted immediately after childbirth or in the first 48 hours, otherwise you need to wait until 4 weeks after childbirth to use these.
A doctor can check the right contraception for you – if you are prescribed any other medications after pregnancy, including antidepressant medications of postpartum depression, you should make sure that you let your doctor know that you are taking these when you discuss your contraception options as this might affect what type of contraception would be safest and most suitable for you.