Video - postnatal contraception
This animation explains why it is beneficial for expectant parents to consider postnatal contraception as part of their routine birth plan. Produced by members of the Scottish Postnatal Contraception Network.
Your guide to contraception after having a baby
After giving birth it is important to allow yourself time to make a full recovery. Evidence shows that there are better outcomes for mothers and babies who leave at least a year after giving birth before getting pregnant again.
It's possible to become pregnant again very soon after the birth of your baby, even if you're breastfeeding and even if you have not yet had a period.
You usually release an egg (ovulate) about 2 weeks before your period starts, so it's possible to get pregnant within 3 weeks after you give birth and before you have a period.
Think about your options
There are many different contraceptive options available, and you will be able to decide what suits you as an individual.
It's important to plan contraception in advance so that arrangements can be made. The midwife you see antenatally will usually discuss postnatal contraception with you, as will a doctor if you attend the hospital clinic. After you have your baby, you will be offered contraception before you go home.
Some people will have a postnatal check with their GP at 6 to 8 weeks after the birth. But you can discuss it at any time (including while you're still pregnant) with a:
- health visitor
- doctor or nurse at a maternity or sexual health clinic
Contraception choices immediately after birth
Many types of contraception can be started immediately after birth.
At any time after the birth of your baby, as long as you have no medical risks, you can use:
- a contraceptive implant (more than 99% effective)
- a contraceptive injection (more than 99% effective)
- the progestogen-only pill (around 90% effective though dependent on being taken correctly)
- male condoms (80% effective with typical use)
- IUD (intrauterine device) (more than 99% effective), or an IUS (intrauterine system) (more than 99% effective) can be inserted at caesarean section
If an IUD or IUS is not inserted within 48 hours of the birth, you'll usually be advised to wait until 4 weeks after the birth.
These methods are all available from the Maternity department in NHS Fife and can be given to you before discharge.
Combined hormonal methods are the only contraceptives not advised to start immediately after the birth.
You can discuss with your doctor or nurse which methods are suitable for you.
3 weeks after birth
If you're not breastfeeding and your healthcare professional has checked you have no risk factors for a blood clot in a vein, you can start to use the:
- combined pill (around 91% effective with typical use)
- vaginal ring (around 91% effective with typical use)
- contraceptive patch (around 91% effective with typical use)
But if you're breastfeeding, have certain health conditions, or a risk of blood clots, you'll usually be advised to delay using the combined pill, ring or patch until at least 6 weeks after the birth.
4 weeks after birth
If you did not have an IUD or IUS inserted within 48 hours of the birth, you can have one inserted later. But you'll usually be advised to wait at least 4 weeks after the birth and do a pregnancy test before insertion.
6 weeks after birth
If you're breastfeeding or you've developed certain medical conditions during pregnancy or delivery, you'll need to wait until at least 6 weeks before you can use the:
- combined pill
- vaginal ring
- contraceptive patch
You can usually start using a diaphragm or cap (92% to 96% effective if used correctly) around 6 weeks after giving birth.
If you used a diaphragm or cap before becoming pregnant, see a GP or a doctor or nurse at a contraception clinic after the birth, to make sure it still fits correctly.
This is because childbirth and other factors, such as gaining or losing weight, can mean you need a different size.
Find contraception services near you.
Videos about contraception after giving birth
Introduction to contraception following giving birth
Find out about your options for contraception after you have your baby in this short video.
Your contraception options
In this video we outline your options including the implant, injection, coil and the pill.
An in-depth look at contraception options
Dr Carolyn Ford, Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist discusses the contraception options available.
Louise Russell - Sexual Health Specialist Nurse
Louise discusses postnatal contraception services and introduces Acorn.