After childbirth you will need to choose an effective contraceptive method if you don’t want to get pregnant straight away. The method of contraception you use depends on what you and your partner prefer, your medical history, any problems you had in your pregnancy and if you are breastfeeding. If a woman is breastfeeding contraceptive methods that contain oestrogen are not recommended.

It is usually advised that you wait until the baby is six months old before you start using contraception that contains oestrogen. This is because oestrogen may reduce your milk flow. However, you can consider using them when your baby is at least six weeks old and at least half bottle fed.

Breastfeeding is 98% effective in preventing pregnancy, but only if:

  • you haven't had a period since your baby was born
  • your baby is less than six months old
  • your baby is only breastfed and not having any other food or drink

This protection reduces significantly after six months and once periods return or the baby starts to have any other food or drink, you will need to use contraception if you don't want to get pregnant.

The following types of contraception are considered safe when breast feeding: the progestogen only pill, condoms, the diaphragm, injection, implant, intrauterine devices and emergency contraception.

There are many myths about when and what contraceptives can and cannot be used after a pregnancy. Most contraceptive methods can be started immediately. If you choose an contraceptive implant, it can be inserted on the same day as the delivery or before you leave the hospital. An IUD can be inserted at the 6-wek check-up or any time after that provided a pregnancy is excluded.