Contraception may not be the first thing on your mind during the first weeks of motherhood. All attention is steered towards your child, your recovery and your new life as a mother of one or more children. It can take some time to regain your old rhythm with your partner and to regain your sexual appetite. However once you feel ready, it is important that you use contraception. There is a chance that you may become pregnant right away.
It cannot be said when you will be fertile again after your delivery; this is different for every woman. It also depends on whether you are breastfeeding or not.
You are past the delivery, meaning your pregnancy hormones will decrease and you will regain your old cycle. If you are breastfeeding, menstruation could possibly be delayed. If you are feeding less or stopping completely, your menstruation usually starts again within half a year (also differing per woman). If you are not breastfeeding, you may expect your menstruation after six to eight weeks. Sometimes this may take a little longer. Your first period may be a lot more intense than you are used to.
If you are breastfeeding only (feeding upon request, once per six hours minimum, one time at night and no express milk), the menstruation can start again anywhere from four to six months. The chance of pregnancy is then very small. However, in the Netherlands women often start early with other methods or store breast milk. This means that your menstruation can return earlier, sometimes even six weeks after the birth (your ovulation is two weeks before your menstruation, so sometimes even four weeks after the birth). In other words: you cannot rely on breastfeeding as a contraception method. However you cannot use all contraceptive methods as some have a negative effect on the breastfeeding.
If you are feeding by bottle, you can expect your first menstruation six weeks after the birth. This means that is possible that you’ve had your ovulation two weeks prior to that and therefore can become pregnant again. In other words: if you feed by bottle, you are fertile again four weeks after the delivery!
In general the advice concerning contraception for woman who are using methods other than breastfeeding is: start in the fourth week after the birth with contraception. You can also wait for your first menstruation and start contraception on the first day. However before this time you must use condoms.
IUDs are usually placed approximately eight to ten weeks after the birth. Until that time you should use condoms, should you wish not to become pregnant again immediately.
What do you choose?
There is a vast number of contraceptive methods to choose from. What you decide depends on your personal preference, your ease of use, your dependability and other factors. These questions help you in making a choice:
- Are you breastfeeding?
- Have you experienced any side effects?
- How often do you want to think about contraception?
- How long do you want to be protected?
- Do you want to control your menstruation?
To help you with your choice, you can read the links below about the different methods. You can also fill in a choice help. Of course, we can answer any questions you may have during maternity care or check-ups.