So, you're no longer taking a daily birth control pill because you literally just had a baby and haven't needed it for a while. Or maybe you're just looking into new formats of pregnancy prevention (and there are a bunch!). We looked over the birth control options that are currently available to see what's best for those who have already been pregnant and given birth, because once you have a baby, your life definitely changes.
Birth control you don't deal with every day
Dr. Elizabeth Sauter, who has been a practicing OB-GYN for over 30 years, knows that new moms have challenges they might not have faced before their child was born. "By far, the best birth control options are long-acting methods," she tells SheKnows.
For one thing, you don't have to think about them every single day, which is good, because if you're not getting enough sleep or are catching z's when you can, you may not be able to pop a pill every day at around the same time.
Also, there are other benefits to be had when you're on a birth control method that doesn't require any day-of fiddling around, such as what's required with condoms or diaphragms.
"Long-acting birth control is great when you want to be spontaneous — and have limited opportunities due to children," she says. We feel Sauter on that one, because once Baby arrives and continues to grow (and can open doors!), romantic interludes aren't always an option, and when they are, it's nice not to have to worry about birth control, because you're already covered.
Long-acting methods can take many forms, and as their name suggests, they don't come in the form of a small pill you have to remember to take at around the same time every day. Here are a couple of recommended options.
The intrauterine device is a small T-shaped device that's positioned inside a uterus. "IUD are much easier to insert once one has given birth, especially vaginally," Sauter explains. There are two main types of IUDs — they're either copper or hormonal. Both provide years of birth control (copper IUDs can last around 10 years, and hormonal IUDs can last three to five years before they need replaced), she adds.
Another long-term birth control is an implantable rod. These are thin, flexible rods that are inserted under the skin in your arm. Protection from pregnancy lasts around three years.
Other types of birth control
If you're not ready to commit to a long-term birth control device, here are a few other options.
A vaginal ring is inserted and kept inside the vagina and should be removed after three weeks. After that, you take a one-week break, then start again with a new ring. It delivers the same hormones that traditional combination birth control pills do, but might not be recommended for breastfeeding moms (ask your doctor!).
Birth control patch
This is a thin plastic patch that you wear on your skin that releases two types of hormones, similar again to the combination birth control pill. As such, your doctor may opt for another method if you're still breastfeeding.
If a person is breastfeeding, Dr. Sheila Chhutani, a physician, usually recommends progestin-only pills, but moms who aren't nursing can take the combination pill. However, there are some definite drawbacks. "The pills are finicky because of a short half-life and need to be taken at the same time every day," she tells SheKnows. "If [a user is] more than three hours off, they need a backup method."
The condom (as in the one that goes on a penis) is an excellent choice for breastfeeding moms, as it doesn't contain any hormones can affect your milk supply. It's also a good option for those who don't want to look into the more invasive types above or for those who have experienced side effects from other types of birth control. The caveat is that it's not as effective as other types, but that effectiveness rises with consistent, proper use, which means one has to be used as directed every time.
Work with your doctor
Of course, your doctor will know your personal health history and can make recommendations based on your own needs. Most hormonal birth control methods will have some side effects, which can include headaches, breakthrough bleeding, weight gain or sore breasts (of course, this list is not exhaustive — see your doctor for more information).
However, it's nice to know that there are varied options, from ones that need to be attended to on a daily basis to those that will last a literal decade. "New moms have a lot on their plate and don't need to worry about birth control on a daily basis," Chhutani says. "Thankfully, with so many options, they don't have to."