When can I use contraception after having a baby?
It's possible to become pregnant again very soon after the birth of a baby, even if you're breastfeeding and even if your periods have not returned.
You usually release an egg (ovulate) about 2 weeks before your period starts, so it's possible to get pregnant before you have a period.
Find out about your options
It's important to plan contraception in advance. If you have your baby in hospital, you'll probably discuss contraception with a midwife before you go home.
You'll also be asked about contraception at your postnatal check, which happens 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 contraception or sexual health clinic
Not all methods of contraception are safe for all women. For example, you should not use some methods if you have certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure (hypertension).
You can discuss with your doctor or nurse which methods are suitable for you.
Contraception choices 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 (99% effective if taken correctly)
- male condoms (98% effective if used correctly)
- female condoms (95% effective if used correctly)
If an IUD or IUS is not inserted within 48 hours, you'll usually be advised to wait until 4 weeks after the birth.
3 weeks after birth
If you're not breastfeeding and your healthcare professional has checked you have no medical risk factors for a blood clot in a vein, you can start to use the:
- combined pill (more than 99% effective if taken correctly)
- vaginal ring (more than 99% effective if used correctly)
- contraceptive patch (more than 99% effective if used correctly)
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.
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.
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Page last reviewed: 29 June 2020
Next review due: 29 June 2023