Birth Control After Baby

Most teens do not want another pregnancy right after having a baby, but they may not be well informed about birth control methods that are safe and effective after child birth. Keep reading for information and tips on forms of birth control after having a baby.

About half of babies born in the US are the result of unplanned pregnancy, and teens are especially at risk for unplanned pregnancy, mostly due to a lack of education. Teens' doctors should talk to them about postpartum birth control before they give birth and at their postpartum appointment to increase the chances that the teen's next pregnancy will be planned. 

Most teen pregnancies are unplanned, and may come as the result of misunderstandings or wrong information about birth control. Some important facts for teens to know about birth control after having a baby: 

  • Studies have found that having a second pregnancy within 12 months of giving birth is dangerous for the baby and takes a toll on the mother's body, which has not yet recovered from the rigors of the first pregnancy. Because pregnancy is especially hard on teens' bodies, they should not become pregnant again right away even if they want another baby sometime soon.
  • You can get pregnant again very soon after having a baby. You may become fertile even before you have your first postpartum period, and therefore can go from one pregnancy to the next without even realizing you were able to get pregnant.
  • Breastfeeding does not necessarily prevent pregnancy. Though many people who breastfeed do not resume their period for 6 months or more, everyone is different, and teens who rely on breastfeeding exclusively to prevent pregnancy may become pregnant again much sooner than they intended.
  • Withdrawal, where the male pulls out before orgasm, is not an effective birth control method.
  • The rhythm method, which is avoiding sex during times of the month when you might be able to conceive, is also not effective, especially after child birth, since it may take some time after periods resume for them to become regular, and they may not be the same as before pregnancy.
  • If teens previously used a type of birth control that was fitted to them, like a diaphragm or cervical cap, it will need to be refitted after child birth.
  • Some hormonal birth control methods, such as the pill, are not recommended for breastfeeding mothers.  

There are many types of birth control available to teens after childbirth depending on their situations. 

  • Abstinence. Abstinence means not having any type of sex. This is the only method of birth control guaranteed to prevent pregnancy and the spread of STDs. Most doctors recommend a period of abstinence following child birth for the body to recover, usually around 6 weeks. The emotional and hormonal changes following child birth, as well as the exhaustion common among new mothers, mean that many new mothers are not interested in sex for a while after having their baby. If teens are planning on being abstinent but may be in situations where they will be tempted to have sex, such as living with the baby’s father, they should consider having a backup method of birth control available.
  • Barrier methods. Barrier methods, which prevent sperm from getting to the egg, greatly reduce the chance of a teen getting pregnant. This includes condoms, which are also the only form of birth control besides abstinence that can help prevent Sexually Transmitted Diseases STDs. Cervical caps and diaphragms, which need to be fitted to the teen post partum, do not protect against STDs, but are very effective against pregnancy. Spermicides kill sperm before they can cause pregnancy, but work best when used with another method.
  • Hormonal methods. Hormonal birth control, such as the patch and the pill, reduce the chances of pregnancy by preventing the woman's body from releasing an egg and stopping the sperm from reaching the egg. Estrogen and progestin are the hormones used in this method. Estrogen can interfere with breastfeeding, but some forms are available with just progestin. These methods must be used on a regular schedule to be effective.
  • Implanted devices. IUDs and rods may be implanted in a teen and release various substances that prevent pregnancy. They last up to 5 or 10 years, depending on the device, and can be removed sooner. This method doesn't require teens to remember to do anything for birth control.
  • Surgical methods. Women can have surgery on their fallopian tubes to prevent pregnancy. This method rarely fails, and is considered permanent for teens who never want another pregnancy.

The use of condoms is strongly recommended for sexually active teens to prevent STDs, even when using other birth control methods.


US Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventative Medicine, "Birth Control Options Postpartum" [online]

Center for Disease Control and Prevention, "Unintended Pregnancy Prevention: Contraception" [online], "Birth Control Methods: Frequently Asked Questions" [online], Healthy Pregnancy, "Getting Pregnant Again" [online]

Utah Department of Health, PRAMS Perspectives, "Unintended Pregnancy in Utah" [online]

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