Once your new baby arrives, you may wonder when you will get your period back.
It is difficult to predict when your fertility will return. If you are breastfeeding you may not ovulate for months, but some breastfeeding women will ovulate as early as the fourth week following childbirth. Women who are not breastfeeding can ovulate even sooner. Ovulation is likely to occur 10-14 days before your menstrual period returns. With such unpredictability, it is very important to use contraception until you are ready to try for another baby. Plans for contraception should be made during your pregnancy and the method chosen may be started before the 6 week postpartum visit to your health care provider if it does not contain estrogen.
It is important to decide which birth control method is right for you and your partner, and to have it in effect before you begin having sex again. Talk to your health care provider about your choices. Briefly, these include:
This is a natural birth control method. Breastfeeding causes the hormone prolactin to be released, and prolactin inhibits ovulation. For this method to be effective, you must be exclusively breastfeeding at least every 4 hours, not have had a period since you delivered, and your baby must be less than 6 months old.
There are several methods of hormonal contraception, including the pill, the patch, the vaginal ring, and the hormonal injection. If you are not breastfeeding, you can use hormonal contraceptives starting three-four weeks after delivery. If you are breastfeeding, some of these forms of hormonal birth control may decrease milk production. The progestin-only, or ‘mini-pill’, does not appear to interfere with lactation, can be started immediately after birth. Current combined estrogen-progestin birth control pills do not interfere with the quantity or quality of breast milk once lactation is well-established. If you are breastfeeding and would like to use a form of hormonal contraception other than the mini-pill, it is recommended that you start just after your baby is 6 weeks old. That way, breastfeeding will be well established and you can be sure your baby is gaining weight properly.
The IUD (copper or hormonal) is a highly effective, long acting and rapidly reversible method of contraception. You can have an IUD inserted immediately after delivery, if you choose, or it can be inserted at the 6 week visit. In that case, be sure to use another method as soon as you resume intercourse, and until the IUD is inserted.
Condoms are effective contraception and also protect both partners from sexually transmitted infections.
Permanent birth control measures include vasectomy or tubal ligation.
These include female condoms, spermicides, diaphragms, and cervical caps.