Birth Control After Baby

The best new-mom birth control picks -- whether you're between pregnancies or done having children!
couple on couch

Sure, you just had a child, or will have one imminently. And, yeah, sex is probably the last thing on your mind. But eventually, you (and definitely your partner) will want to jump back in that sack. What you may not want, at least not right away? Another bambino. Whatever your family-expansion timeline, there's a contraceptive that will offer you peace of mind -- for as long as you need it. Get ready to meet your new favorite form of birth control.

"Call us crazy, but we want to get pregnant again within a year."

Consider this: A barrier method, such as condoms or a diaphragm

Cost: About $1 each for condoms; $15 to $75 for a diaphragm. (Prices provided by Planned Parenthood.)

New-mom perks: Barrier methods give you fairly reliable protection without a commitment -- use 'em when you want, toss 'em when you're ready to try again. Both methods have about an 85 percent success rate with typical use (aka when used by real people in real life), according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Plus, they protect against sexually transmitted diseases. You'll need to wait until six weeks postpartum to see the doc for a diaphragm fitting. "Childbirth can permanently change the size and shape of your vagina and cervix," says Rebecca Allen, M.D., an ob-gyn at Women & Infants Hospital in Providence. OBs suggest you say no to nookie till your six-week postpartum visit anyway, but if the moment strikes before then, make sure your guy wears a glove!

Good to know: Condoms may feel different to you postpartum because vaginal tissue can be supersensitive. "After my second child, they really hurt me," says Kara-Noel Lawson, a mom of four in Trabuco Canyon, California. Finding the most comfortable condom for you may take trial and error -- get a big ol' variety box! And pick up a bottle of lubricant while you're at it.

They're probably not for you if: You don't like interrupting the moment to rummage in your night table. In the post-baby phase, quickies are often the norm. No one can blame you for wanting to make every second count.

"We're definitely waiting a year. After that, we'll see."

Consider this: A hormonal method, including the Pill, the patch, or the ring. They all provide a combination of estrogen and progestin, which suppress ovulation, prevent implantation, or do both; they differ in how they deliver the hormones. Another option is the progestin-only mini pill.

Cost: $15 to $50 a month for pills; $15 to $80 a month for the patch; $15 to $80 a month for the ring

New-mom perks: Each hormonal method boasts a 92 percent success rate with typical use -- used perfectly, 99 percent. The patch and the ring serve up another boon: One less thing to remember. The patch, which delivers hormones through the skin, stays put for seven days; the ring, which you insert into the vagina like a diaphragm, remains in place for three weeks. "I found the ring very easy," says Elaine Barber, of Ogden, Illinois. "I just set an alarm on my cell phone to ping me when it was time for a new one." Combo methods can ease vaginal dryness, a common issue for nursing moms, because they stimulate the vaginal lining. If you're breastfeeding, the mini pill won't decrease your milk supply (there's evidence that contraceptives containing estrogen may, Dr. Allen says). Fertility is restored as soon as you stop using any of these options.

Good to know: You have to wait at least four weeks after delivery to begin the combo methods because postpartum women have an increased risk of blood clots, which estrogen may heighten, says Mary Jane Minkin, M.D., a clinical professor of ob-gyn at Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. For the best protection, take the Pill during the same daily three-hour window.

They're probably not for you if: You're worried about forgetting to take -- or change -- them. "After my second baby, I went on the Pill," says Barber. "But with two little ones, I seemed to miss a lot of doses. We switched back to condoms."

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