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So THAT's How Soon You Can Actually Get Pregnant After Birth

<span class="copyright">damircudic via Getty Images</span>
damircudic via Getty Images

Jaanki Kotecha, a Pharmacist Independent Prescriber at Hello Eve and an expert in contraception and women’s health.

For many women, the first months of new motherhood can fly by in a rush of sleepless nights, nappy changes and upended routines. Amidst the chaos, it’s not surprising that contraception tends to fall off the radar! When there are so many things to worry about, the thought of choosing the right birth control option can feel completely overwhelming. 

However, unless you are looking to add another new baby to your family in the next year, contraception is not something that you can afford to ignore. As a pharmacist, here’s my advice on navigating postpartum contraception myths and making the right choice for you and your baby. 

Don’t fall for these fertility myths

A quick social media or internet search throws up an array of conflicting information regarding postpartum fertility levels. Are you more fertile? Are you less fertile? The reality is that after you have given birth, you are not any more fertile - or any less fertile - than you were before you became pregnant. Your body, which might feel physically different after giving birth, will always return to its normal hormonal balance.

Now, let’s address the biggest elephant in the room – the misconception that you can’t get pregnant right after giving birth. The truth is, there’s always a risk. Women can fall pregnant as soon as three weeks after having a baby! 

The time it takes for your period to come back after giving birth varies from person to person. So, some people can actually get pregnant sooner than others. Usually, your period returns about a month postpartum, unless you are breastfeeding, in which case it can take longer. 

However, another common misconception is that women can use breastfeeding as a form of birth control. This is called the lactational amenorrhea method. However, this does not guarantee that you will not get pregnant,; it simply means that it may reduce your chances of getting pregnant. 

While some contraception methods are not recommended during the first few weeks of breastfeeding due to a small risk that they can affect your milk supply, not all contraception methods are unsafe during breastfeeding. It is important to consult a healthcare professional to find a suitable and safe option that aligns with your individual health needs.

The different contraception options available that will keep mum and baby safe 

When it comes to contraception methods that are safe for both breastfeeding and non-breastfeeding mothers, the contraceptive implant is one option. In addition to being a discreet and long-acting method of contraception, it also eliminates the need for daily pill-taking—a task that, during the first few weeks of motherhood, can feel like an added burden to remember.

For breastfeeding mums, the progestogen-only pill is also a viable option. Addressing concerns about hormonal contraceptives interfering with milk production, this pill provides effective contraception while supporting your breastfeeding journey.

And of course, condoms! Don’t underestimate their power. Not only do they prevent unwanted pregnancies, but they also protect against sexually transmitted infections. Condoms are a versatile and accessible choice for new mums.

How to access convenient and reliable contraception methods 

The NHS offers free contraception from some GP surgeries and sexual health clinics. You can even get free contraception from your pharmacy without a prescription.

As a new mum, finding the time to schedule a contraception appointment or heading outside to purchase it (especially in the colder months!) can be a struggle – so if you can afford to, you can take advantage of online platforms, such as Hello Eve, where you can access clinical support, expert advice, and discreet direct-to-door contraception delivery services.  

Of course, things happen and you may be in need of some emergency contraception!

Luckily, specific types of emergency contraception, like Levonelle, are safe to take while breastfeeding. Even though small amounts of the hormones in the pill may pass into your breast milk, it is not thought to be harmful to your baby. Other options such as ellaOne, is a great option for mums who aren’t breastfeeding. 

While these are valuable recommendations, it’s always important to consult your healthcare professional before making any contraception decisions. Your medical history and lifestyle are unique, so you should take a personalised approach to contraception. 

Figuring out your contraception choice can be a puzzle, but it doesn’t have to be. By focusing on the facts and what works for you, you’ll find the easiest path to keep yourself, and the new baby, happy and healthy.

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