The main points
- Choosing when to start using contraception after pregnancy and which method to use is a personal choice.
- There are restrictions on use of some contraception options after delivery.
- Speak to your doctor, nurse or midwife for more information on contraception options after delivery and restrictions on use.
Contraception after pregnancy?
Contraception is not required until 21 days after delivery (birth) or until 5 days after miscarriage or abortion. However, there may be benefits of starting earlier if you are having sex and want to prevent pregnancy. Choosing when to start using contraception after pregnancy and which method to use is a personal choice.
What contraception is best for me?
When you are ready to have sex after pregnancy, some of the factors you may consider when choosing a method of contraception include:
- Reproductive decisions or stage (e.g. not wanting children, family spacing, family completion).
- If you are breastfeeding or not.
- Sexually transmissible infection (STI) protection.
- Previous contraceptive use.
- Experience of side-effects.
- Wish for non-contraceptive hormonal benefits (e.g. for acne, heavy menstrual bleeding).
- Desire to avoid hormones or procedures.
- Medical eligibility (medical conditions, current medications, or allergies).
- Personal preference.
- Desire for privacy by using an undetectable method.
- Whether you want your sexual partner/s to be involved.
- Cultural and/or religious factors.
- Accessibility of appropriate health services (e.g. to insert an intrauterine device (IUD), preference for practitioner gender, location).
- Affordability and cost (both initial and ongoing).
What are the different types of contraception?
There are many types of contraception and each works in a different way.
For more information see: Contraception Options.
Contraception options after miscarriage or abortion
Contraception options after delivery (birth)
Most contraception options can be initiated immediately after delivery, provided you do not have any medical conditioners that make the option unsuitable.
The contraceptive implant (Implanon NXT), mini pill, external condoms and internal condoms can generally be started immediately after delivery. The contraceptive injection (Depo) can generally be started immediately after delivery, however if you had a caesarean delivery or any complications with pregnancy or birth speak with your doctor, nurse or midwife.
There are restrictions on use of some contraception options after delivery. These include:
The diaphragm can be used from 6 weeks after delivery. This allows for the uterus (womb) to return to its non-pregnant state.
IUDs can be inserted within 48 hours of delivery or after 4 weeks. If inserted within 48 hours of delivery there is a higher chance the IUD will be expelled (fall out) from the uterus (womb). If you are breastfeeding or within the first 9 months after delivery, there is a small increased risk of the doctor or nurse making a small hole in the wall of the uterus while inserting the IUD.
Restrictions for the use of the Pill and vaginal ring depend on your risk of venous thromboembolism (blood clots in the deep veins) and whether you are breastfeeding.
If you are not breastfeeding and do not have a higher risk of venous thromboembolism these methods can usually be started 3 weeks after delivery. If you are breastfeeding these methods can usually be started 6 weeks after delivery. If you had a caesarean delivery or any complications with pregnancy or birth, speak with your doctor, nurse or midwife.
Speak to your doctor, nurse or midwife for more information on contraception options after delivery and restrictions on use.
Breastfeeding as contraception
Breastfeeding as contraception or the lactational amenorrhoea method (LAM) provides effective contraception only when:
- you are exclusively breastfeeding – your baby is not having any other food or drink and
- there are no intervals of less than 6 hours between each breastfeed and
- you have not yet had a menstrual period since your baby was born and
- it is less than 6 months since your baby was born.
It can be difficult to know when your fertility has returned after delivery. Ovulation (release of an egg) is not always obvious and can be easily missed as it occurs before a menstrual period. As both ovulation and breastfeeding can be unpredictable, additional contraception can also be considered.
Emergency contraception options after miscarriage or abortion
All emergency contraception options can be initiated immediately after miscarriage or abortion, provided there are no medical contraindications.
Emergency contraception options after delivery (birth)
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Where to get more information and support
- Sexual Health Victoria
- A doctor or nurse
- Your local community health service
- An obstetrician or gynaecologist
- A vasectomy clinic
- 1800 My Options phone line - 1800 696 784
- Better Health Channel
- Equinox – for transgender services
- Jean Hailes
- Marie Stopes Australia
- Multicultural Centre for Women’s Health
- The Women’s (The Royal Women’s Hospital)