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Contraception after having a baby

Fertility can return quickly after childbirth and you can get pregnant as little as 21 days after the birth of a baby, even before your first period. You can also get pregnant if you are breastfeeding. Unless you want to get pregnant again, it's important to use some kind of contraception every time you have sex after giving birth.

Although you may not feel ready to have sex for a period of time after child birth, depending on your circumstances, you may be contemplating resuming sexual activity. Some considerations include contraception and whether it is safe to have sexual intercourse. For further advice and guidance, we recommend you speak to your midwife or surgeon if you have had surgery or sutures. 

An interval of less than 12 months between childbirth and a subsequent pregnancy can be associated with poor outcomes of pregnancy, including low birthweight, premature rupture of membranes and pre-term birth.

Conversations about contraception choices usually happens soon after the birth of a baby during routine postnatal checks, but you may want to plan ahead and discuss contraception whilst you are still pregnant.

You can also talk to your GP, midwife, health visitor or go to a family planning clinic. 

You can also access Desogestral, a progesterone-only contraceptive pill, via your local pharmacy, who can sell/supply you with an initial 3-month supply. Please speak to your local pharmacist for further advice.

If you would like to start contraception immediately after having a baby, the following options are available:

  • Contraceptive implant
  • Injection
  • Progestogen-only pill 
  • Condoms
  • Coil*

*The IUD and IUS (coils) can be fitted at the time of a caesarean section or after a vaginal birth. If you would like a coil to be fitted immediately after giving birth, you will need to discuss this beforehand. If the IUD and IUS (coils) are not fitted within the first 48 hours of birth then you will need wait at least four weeks after giving birth. 

Emergency oral contraception (emergency pills) are safe to take after having a baby but are not needed during the first 21 days after birth.

Which methods are not suitable immediately after having a baby?

  • Combined pill
  • Contraceptive patch 
  • Vaginal ring
  • Diaphragm

Combined contraceptive methods (containing oestrogen and progestogen) should not be used in the first three weeks after giving birth due to the risk of developing blood clots and the first six weeks if you are breastfeeding, as they can affect your milk supply. 

If you have an increased risk of developing blood clots, you may be advised to wait longer before using combined contraception, or may not be able to use them at all. Speak to your GP or nurse for further advice. 

The diaphragm is considered less effective at preventing pregnancy and is not recommended during the first six weeks after giving birth. If this was your previous contraception method, you may not be able to use the same diaphragm as you did prior to pregnancy. You will need to see your health care provider for an assessment to make sure it still fits.  

Contraception and breastfeeding

If you're using a hormonal method of contraception then a small amount of hormone can enter the milk, however this is not considered harmful to breastfed babies.

Emergency contraception are safe to use when breastfeeding. You can continue to breastfeed normally if you use the IUD or emergency pill containing levonorgestrel.

If you use the emergency pill containing ulipristal acetate (ellaOne®), you should not breastfeed for seven days after taking it. You should express and discard your breast milk for seven days following ulipristal acetate as the effects on breastfed babies have not been studied.

Further information and resources on contraception after having a baby