While getting ready to welcome your bundle of joy, it is a good idea to discuss with your partner and your doctor the kind of contraception method you want to use after giving birth. Whether you want to switch back to the method you employed before conceiving or you want to try out something new and long term, it is best to give it a thought few weeks before your delivery than after when you will get totally consumed in baby care.
What Are The Various Contraception Choices In India?
There are many contraception options available to you in India today. These can be broadly classified into three:
Barrier Contraception Methods: These essentially act as “barriers” that would physically prevent sperms from reaching eggs. They have close to no side effects as it does not impact your hormones. Popular barrier methods are:
Hormonal Contraception Methods: These are prescription drugs/methods that does one or more of the following three things: (1) stops ovulation (2) make the uterine lining so thin that eggs don’t latch there or (3) make the cervical mucus so thick that sperms can’t get past it to the eggs. This can impact your lactation. Popular hormonal methods are:
Intrauterine Devices for Contraception: These are devices inserted into the uterus that will prevent you from getting pregnant. They are long term, effective and reversible. Popular methods are:
Intrauterine system (IUS)
IUD or coil
Top 10 Contraception Choices after Delivery
When the options are plenty the choice becomes tough too. We detail below 10 of the above methods so that you can make an informed choice on a contraception method that is best for your and your partner’s needs.
Male condom: A great choice if you do not want to take hormonal medicines and want to continue breastfeeding. It also has a reasonable reliability of 85%
Female condom: If you are not familiar, this is a thin pouch like thing made of polyurethane that can be inserted into the vagina before having sex. Although not as popular as male condoms, it offers the same level of reliability. The fact that you can insert it yourself without the help of a doctor makes it more convenient too
Diaphragm: Diaphragm is another good choice if you are lactating as it does not impact your hormones. It is a dome shaped object which needs to be filled with ‘spermicide’ and inserted into your vagina. The device acts as a barrier for sperm to reach eggs, and if some do get in, the spermicide will kill it. You need to get a diaphragm ‘custom-fitted’ for your body and once this is done, you can insert it yourself, after some practice under your doctor’s guidance. It offers more reliability (~92-96%) than condoms. Another similar device is cervical cup
Pill: This is a hormonal method that is very popular in India. It is a oral contraceptive for women containing estrogen and progesterone. You have to take one pill a day for 21 days, leave a gap of 7 days, then continue the cycle every month. This is a great choice if you are comfortable inserting devices into your vagina and your partner has inhibitions for using condoms. It also offers high reliability of 99%. This is not a good option if you want to breastfeed, or more practically, if you tend to forget taking medicines
Mini-pill: This is another oral contraceptive which contains progestin. This needs to be taken every day at the same time for as long as you want to avoid pregnancy. This is a great option if you want to continue breastfeeding as it does not contain estrogen. Also, you can start taking it right after your delivery, if you are not exclusively breastfeeding your child
Ring: This is a small flexible ring that needs to be inserted in your vagina once in a month before your cycle starts. This ring will continue to release estrogen and progesterone. Similar to the pill, this provides high reliability (99%) but not a good option if you are breastfeeding
Patch: This is a thin adhesive bandage you can apply to your skin. Again, like the ring, it continues to release estrogen and progesterone into your body. You need to apply a new patch every week for three weeks of a month and you can go patch-free for the last week. As other hormonal methods, this is 99% reliable, but not a great option if you want to breastfeed
Injections: Each shot contains progestin (as in mini-pill) and can last 8-12 weeks, after which you need to get another shot. This is a great option if you (1) tend to forget taking tablets (2) want a more effective method than condoms (3) are not comfortable inserting devices to your vagina and (4) want to breastfeed
Intrauterine system (IUS): This is a great option for long term contraception. There are multiple varieties of IUS, but copper T is most popular in India where a T-shaped device wrapped in copper wire is inserted into the uterus by a doctor. This can provide upto 10 years of protection and is 99% effective. This contains no hormones, so it is a safe option for breastfeeding moms
Permanent Sterilization: Also, there is always the option of choosing a permanent sterilization method like vasectomy for men or tubal ligation or ‘tying the tubes’
While not as reliable as the methods listed above, some women follow natural birth control methods, such as, religiously calculating your ovulation cycle and avoiding making love during the ovulation period. However, these techniques become especially tricky after delivery as your cycle is bound to change. While lactation can act as a contraception method (lactation amenorrhoea), you need to satisfy a lot of conditions (like you baby is six months or younger and you have got no periods) to ensure that the method is reliable.
Since it is an important decision, please understand and educate yourselves of all the options before picking one. Taking the help of your gynecologist would essentially help you choosing the best contraceptive as per your needs.
To understand more about sex after delivery, especially if you have reservations, please click here and read Has Your Sex Life Dropped after Baby?