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 haven't returned.
You usually release an egg (ovulate) about two weeks before your period arrives, so it's possible to get pregnant before you have a period.
Find out about your options
It's important to sort out contraception from the start. If you had your baby in hospital, you'll probably have discussed contraception with a family planning adviser before being discharged home.
You'll also be asked about contraception at your six-week postnatal check, but you can discuss it at any time (including while you're still pregnant) with your:
- health visitor
- local contraception clinic
Not all methods of contraception are safe for all women. For example, you shouldn't use some methods if you have certain medical conditions, such as high blood pressure.
You can discuss with your doctor or nurse which methods are appropriate for you.
As soon as you're ready
At any time after the birth, as long as you have no medical risks, you can use:
- contraceptive implant (more than 99% effective)
- contraceptive injection (more than 99% effective)
- progestogen-only pill (99% effective if taken correctly)
- male condoms (98% effective if used correctly)
- female condoms (95% effective if used correctly)
- IUD (intrauterine device) (more than 99% effective)
- IUS (intrauterine system) (more than 99% effective)
can be inserted within 48 hours of the birth. If not inserted within 48 hours, you'll usually be advised to wait until four weeks after the birth.
Three weeks after birth
If you're not breastfeeding and your healthcare professional has assessed 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)
from 21 days after the birth.
But if you're breastfeeding, have certain health conditions or a risk of blood clots, you're usually advised not to start the combined pill, ring or patch until at least six weeks after giving birth.
Four weeks after the birth
An IUD or IUS can be inserted four weeks after the birth if it hasn't been inserted within 48 hours after birth.
From six weeks after birth
If you're breastfeeding or developed certain medical conditions during pregnancy or delivery, you'll need to wait until at least six 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 six weeks after giving birth.
If you used a diaphragm or cap before becoming pregnant, see your GP or contraception (family planning) 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.
Page last reviewed: 19 July 2017
Next review due: 19 July 2020