Contraception after childbirth: Condoms, pills or contraceptive implants?

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Although the idea of talking about contraception just after giving birth may seem strange, experts have highlighted its importance.

According to gynaecologist Katty Ardaens, the ideal place to address this subject would really be the maternity hospital itself.

“Young mothers, especially those who are not breastfeeding, quickly regain their normal fertility”, she warns.

If a new mother does not breastfeed, she can start ovulating again as early as the 25th day after giving birth.

“It is essential that these women can be protected from becoming pregnant again too soon”, Dr Ardaens continues. Especially as this can have very negative psychological implications.

Combined oestroprogestogen pills are not recommended for use while breastfeeding. This is because the hormones they contain pass into the breast milk. This is something that needs to be discussed with your gynaecologist.

“Recent studies have shown that the traditional mini-pill is harmless in terms of the quality of breast milk and infant growth”, Dr Ardaens points out.

However, it is still better to wait for at least six weeks after giving birth before taking this pill.

Progestogen only pills, which are oestrogen free, can be prescribed from the fourth week after the birth if the mother is breastfeeding, and from the tenth day after the birth if she is not.

What about condoms? These are an effective means of contraception, providing of course that they don’t break!

Dr Ardaens believes that the “option of choice” is a contraceptive implant or, for greater safety, an IUD.

Whether this is of the traditional copper type or an IUS system containing levonorgestrel, it can be inserted 6 weeks after giving birth.

Associated with a reduction in menstrual flow, this progestogen intrauterine system is becoming increasingly popular.

As Dr Ardaens explains, “during this period when a new mother has to get up several times a night, sparing her the added burden of taking a pill at a set time is a considerable bonus”.

It will take a load off her mind as she won’t have to think about contraception or about her periods!

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