You've recently given birth and are now in the mood to rekindle that spark that 9+ months ago resulted in your new baby (or babies). You may be wondering what forms of contraception to use in this post-baby world of yours. The latest recommendation is to wait 18 – 24 months before getting pregnant again to allow your body and hormones time to recover and balance out. Did you know that waiting also reduces the risk of premature birth?
It's important to know your birth control options!
When can we start?
First, it's important that you get the medical "all clear" to have sex again. Whether you had a surgical or vaginal birth, your body needs time to heal.
It is possible to become pregnant as early as 3 weeks postpartum, so the type of contraception you use should be considered carefully.
Will Sex Be Painful?
If you continue to have discomfort or pain during sex months after giving birth, it may be worthwhile to have your healthcare provider examine you to make sure that your perineum has healed properly after a tear or episiotomy and that you do not have pelvic organ prolapse of the uterus, bladder or rectum. You may also consider seeing a physiotherapist that specializes in pelvic floor therapy, not only would they be able to make a thorough assessment of scar tissue, pelvic organ prolapse, diastasis recti, muscle tension or weakness, but they would then work with you to help heal any issues – as this is typically more complex than just doing Kegels. (You will find links to our pelvic floor specialists who have been guests at our Mom & Baby Socials at the end of this blog post).
The hormones in these contraceptive methods may actually lower milk supply for some women – and your OB/GYN may not be aware of this as breastfeeding is not within their specialty (link: https://kellymom.com/bf/can-i-breastfeed/meds/birthcontrol/). Hormonal contraceptives are not recommended for breastfeeding mothers before 6 weeks postpartum because baby’s liver may be too immature at this point.
Nonhormonal methods such as barrier methods (such as condoms, sponge, cervical cap, etc.) or the copper intrauterine device (IUD) are better choices to use while breastfeeding. If you are not breastfeeding you have all the choices you had pre-pregnancy at your disposal.
Breastfeeding As Birth Control
Natural Family Planning Methods (Fertility Awareness)
If you are breastfeeding exclusively on demand, fertility awareness methods like the calendar rhythm method can be challenging because you are unlikely to start your period before 6 months postpartum so you cannot rely on a regular cycle to track. However, together with breastfeeding (LAM) and tracking cervical mucus and position, as well as basal body temperature, other natural family planning methods can be highly effective when followed correctly. We highly recommend that you work with your healthcare provider to help you learn to track your fertility. Fertility Apps are still very new and their accuracy has yet to be determined. Whether you are breast or bottle feeding it is important to be aware that all Natural Family Planning Methods have a higher chance of unplanned pregnancy than other contraceptive methods.
Tubal ligation "getting your tubes tied" for women and vasectomy "getting snipped" for men are surgical procedures that are suppose to eliminate any chance of getting pregnant again (95-99% effective). If you and your partner know you are done having children and don't want to worry about contraception this may be the option for you. There are risks to each procedure but your health care provider can help you understand the risks and the benefits of each.
sex after baby tip #1:
Give yourself time to fall in love with your postpartum body!
sex after baby tip #2
Buy new lingerie that fits your new postpartum body and helps you feel more comfortable (and sexy) in your new skin!
sex after baby tip #3
Communicate with your partner. You call the shots, the tempo, the speed - you are in the drivers seat. And if you have to stop, that's ok!
The most important thing for couples to know is that this rekindling will take time, patience and some planning because you have a newborn demanding most of your time, attention and nurturing. Be sure to have extra love, grace, patience and understanding for each other - this goes a long way, and will return to you tenfold in the bedroom!
These blogs about Pelvic Floor Health may be of interested to you as well:
Guest Blogger: Madelaine Golec, Registered Pelvic Health Physiotherapist and the owner of ECO Physiotherapy in Mississauga, ON.
Guest Blogger: Amanda Jones, MSc (PT), MSc (Med Sci), BSc (Biomed) provides both orthopaedic and pelvic health services at Eramosa Physiotherapy Associates in Orangeville.