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Contraception following pregnancy

Contraception after having a baby

When you come home with your new baby there is so much to think about and contraception often features low down on the ‘to do’ list! Some women may even feel like they will never have the energy to have sex again, so contraception isn’t a priority.

National and local statistics show that unplanned pregnancies definitely do occur, sometimes within weeks or just a few months of a woman having had a baby.

If you're not planning on extending your family so soon, contraception is really important after having a baby. You will need to be covered from 21 days after delivery in order to prevent an unplanned pregnancy, whether you are breastfeeding or not.

You can watch a video explaining more about Contraception After Childbirth | Lothian Sexual Health from Lothian Sexual Health (c) NHS Lothian 2023

The most effective methods of contraception are Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) methods:

Please note advice should be tailored to your individual needs and wishes.

After having a baby most methods of contraception can be started straight away. You can:

Intra-uterine methods (previously known as ‘coils’) are usually fitted anytime from 4 weeks after having a baby.
Combined hormonal contraception (pills, patches, rings) can be given 3-6 weeks postnatally depending on an individual assessment.

Prevention of unplanned pregnancies after childbirth is important, as research shows the best time to have another child is at least 12 months after having had a baby. Becoming pregnant with a shorter interval is associated with:

  • a higher risk of going into labour too soon
  • low birthweight
  • having a baby that is small for gestational age (dates)

For further information on methods of contraception take a look at our contraception section. You can also have a read of the 'Contraception choices after you've had a baby' leaflet from Sexwise. 

Condoms can be used as contraception and are also important to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Contraception following an abortion

Some women find it is difficult to think about contraception following an abortion and prefer to wait to either see their GP or visit a sexual health service when they are ready. It's important to be aware that it doesn’t take long after an abortion before you are at risk of pregnancy again. If you have unprotected sex after only 5 days after your abortion you can risk a repeat pregnancy.

All forms of contraception can be started immediately after an abortion (either medical or surgical) and this is encouraged to protect you from a further unplanned or unwanted pregnancy.

Advice and choices should be tailored to your individual needs, but Long Acting Reversible Contraception (LARC) is the best way to protect against an unwanted pregnancy in future.

LARC includes:


Partner GP surgeries offering LARC

If you are considering LARC it may not always be necessary to come to one of our clinics if your registered GP or a surgery more convenient to you is linked with our service. If you require long acting reversible contraception (LARC) such as a coil (IUD/IUS) or an implant for contraceptive purposes, our partner GP surgeries can offer you LARC services from their own premises by their own staff. You can find a list of our partner GP surgeries here.

Telephone consultation

If you would like to discuss your options and what method is right for you, you can register for a telephone consultation with a member of our specialist team. Book your telephone advice call here.


Contraception after a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy

If you have had the trauma of a miscarriage or an ectopic pregnancy, the last thing on your mind may be contraception, but it's really important to think about this if you are not planning a repeat pregnancy straight away.

Some women may be keen to try for another pregnancy sooner and others may prefer to wait before trying again. Contraception advice should always be personalised to your specific needs.

Research has shown that women can be reluctant to ask for help with contraception immediately after a miscarriage or eptopic pregnancy and that healthcare professionals can be worried about how to raise the topic sensitively, so please do ask.

If you are thinking of immediately trying again for another baby the general guidance is that there is no reason to delay as long as you and your partner feel ready emotionally and physically. However, if you have had certain medications (such as methotrexate as medical management of an ectopic pregnancy) then you should wait at least 3 months after stopping the treatment before trying again for a baby.

Please check with your doctor if you are, or have been, on any medication to make sure that there are no issues in becoming pregnant. Some medications can cause harmful effects on the baby.

For more information about planning a pregnancy please visit planning your pregnancy.

Following a miscarriage or ectopic pregnancy you are unlikely to become pregnant again in the first 5 days if you've unprotected sex. If however you are not yet ready to become pregnant again you will need to use contraception from 5 days onwards.

If you would like to ask about contraception before having unprotected sex, please speak to your GP or contact Sexual Heath Wirral for further help and advice.  









Last updated: 20/02/2024