If you have recently given birth, sex may be the last thing on your mind, but birth control actually should be. A female who chooses not to breastfeed will ovulate for the first time between 25 and 72 days after giving birth, making it difficult for you to guesstimate. Additionally, despite popular belief, breastfeeding your child is not an automatic protection against pregnancy. You must breastfeed at least every four hours during the day, every 6 hours at night, be providing 90 to 95% of your baby’s food through breast milk, and breastfeed for more than six months before you can remotely rely on breastfeeding as birth control. Otherwise, your chances of pregnancy are reduced, but not eliminated.
After you have just had a baby, hormonal birth control may not be your best option. Breastfeeding women will want to avoid it because the hormones can actually be secreted into the breast milk. The hormone estrogen, which is found in many brands of birth control pills, is known to impact both the quantity of breast milk produced, and the quality of the milk. Estrogen actually decreases the protein, nitrogen, and lactose content of the breast milk, making is less healthy and satisfying for the baby. Additionally, those not breastfeeding must wait until four weeks after delivery to use any form of birth control containing estrogen, because the hormone increases risk of blood clots in early postpartum weeks.
Out of concern for your health as well as your baby’s health, you may choose to use barrier methods of birth control. These include condoms, the diaphragm, or the cervical cap. (Please note that if you were using a diaphragm prior to giving birth, you should have it resized postpartum, as childbirth impacts the size and shape of your vagina.) Another option is Lady-Comp, an intelligent fertility monitor that will predict your fertile days with 99.3% accuracy based on the information you provide it.