After having a baby contraception might well be the last thing on your mind but many unplanned pregnancies happen in the first few months after childbirth so even if you’re not interested in sex straight away, it’s best to be prepared.

Most of the methods outlined in our contraception picker are suitable for women who have just had a baby and want to space their pregnancies or who want long term contraception.

When to start using contraception after giving birth

Your midwife will discuss this with you during one of your antenatal visits so that you can have your contraception ready to start as soon as you have your baby. Staff in the hospital, or community, will make sure you can get your chosen method easily and quickly. You should definitely have started using some form of contraception by three weeks after the baby is born if you don’t want to get pregnant straight away.

Methods of contraception you can use after giving birth

Straight after giving birth

After three weeks if you’re not breastfeeding (six weeks if you are breastfeeding) you can start using the following methods of contraception:

From four weeks after the birth you can use:

From six weeks after the birth you can start to use a

Emergency contraception after giving birth

You can use Emergency Contraception if you have sex without using contraception, or you think your contraception might have failed if it’s been 21 days or more since the birth.  It’s not possible to get pregnant earlier than 21 days (three weeks) after the birth.

If you’re breastfeeding and need emergency contraception you can use the emergency IUD or pill containing levonorgestrel (known as levonelle) and continue to breastfeed.

If you use the emergency pill containing ulipristal acetate (known as ellaOne) you should avoid breastfeeding for a week after taking the pill and during that week you should express and discard your milk.

Intrauterine contraception (coil) after vaginal birth or caesarean birth

This service is available to women giving birth in Tayside, whether you have a vaginal birth or caesarean section.

Intrauterine contraception, commonly known as a ‘coil’, is one of the most effective ways of preventing or spacing a future pregnancy. There are two types – a copper IUD and a hormone releasing device or intrauterine system (IUS) In most cases, these can now be safely fitted for you at the time of having your baby whether you have a vaginal birth or cesarean birth.

Patient information leaflet: PIL Intrauterine Contraception or coil insertion at the time of vaginal birth

Patient information leaflet:Advice for women following coil fitting at the time of vaginal birth

Patient information leaflet:Intrauterine Contraception or ‘coil’ insertion at the time of caesarean section

Where can I get more information?

You can discuss your contraception options with a midwife, doctor or nurse in hospital or with your midwife or health visitor at home.  You can also visit your GP or local sexual health clinic.

You can find more information about contraception after having a baby  here.