Choosing when to start to have sex and use contraception after birth can depend on when you delivered your baby, your birth experience, how you’re recovering, and whether you’re breastfeeding.
Giving birth and becoming a parent is physically and emotionally tiring. It’s important to look after your own health as well as that of your new baby in the first few months.
If you are in a relationship remember everyone can find the adjustment to parenthood difficult. Many people worry about what’s right for their partner - they may be unsure what to do and they may feel worried about hurting you. Also, sometimes it’s hard to find time to be alone together when you have a new baby. It can help to keep talking and sharing how you’re feeling.
Speak with your health visitor or GP if you or your partner have any concerns about sex after childbirth.
Pelvic floor exercies (sometimes called Kegel exercises) are when you clench and unclench the internal muscles known as your pelvic floor. You can do pelvic floor exercises anywhere and at any time, either sitting or standing up:
If you are fully breastfeeding (your baby is taking no additional food or fluids and you are breastfeeding at least every 4 hours in the day and 6 hours at night), your baby is less than six months old and your periods have not returned, then breastfeeding is over 98% effective as a contraceptive.
Condoms are a good option from this point onwards after childbirth, as they are non-hormonal and prevent both unwanted pregnancy and STIs.
Progestogen only methods of contraception can be used from three weeks (21 days) after birth. There is no evidence to suggest that they affect your milk supply.
Some people experience troublesome bleeding with the injection in the early post-birth period, so you might prefer to wait six weeks before having an injection. Irregular bleeding is a common side effect of any progestogen only method.
These methods are only suitable if you are not breastfeeding, as they may affect your milk supply. If you are breastfeeding, you are usually advised to wait until your baby is six months old.
Coils should be fitted at least four weeks (28 days) after birth.
If you used a diaphragm before becoming pregnant, see your GP or contraception (family planning) clinic to ensure it still fits correctly. This is because childbirth (and other factors such as weight loss or gain) can mean you need a different size.