New moms have specific contraceptive needs. They want birth control that is effective, simple to use, can be used over a long period of time, and allows for sexual spontaneity. An important question often asked by new moms is, “How soon after giving birth do I need to start using birth control?” Usually, doctors recommend that birth control be started six weeks after giving birth (if medically it’s okay to have sex) or when menstruation resumes. Breastfeeding does not prevent pregnancy, as many couples accidentally realize, so often couples use condoms until they decide on another form of birth control.
Barrier methods of birth control such as diaphragms, cervical caps, or condoms, appeal to women who don't want extra hormones in their systems. None of these impact breastfeeding or future fertility. The diaphragm is a latex cup which is filled with spermicide and inserted into the vagina prior to sexual intercourse. The cervical cap is similar, but smaller. The cervical cap has a high failure rate among women who have had children, so it’s not recommended for new mothers. The diaphragm is 94% effective when used correctly. A newly fitted diaphragm may be inserted six weeks after birth. Condoms are highly effective, (especially when their partners use a spermicide) and are the only non-permanent birth control option for men. Condoms help protect against venereal diseases and HIV, but other barrier methods do not.
In recent years, a new form of intrauterine contraception (IUC) has been developed. It is a reversible method that is easy to use, provides long-term protection from pregnancy, and does not require monthly trips to the pharmacy. Ninety-six percent of women currently using IUC are satisfied.
Another IUC option, Mirena (R), lasts for five years and is more than 99% effective. Mirena delivers a low dose of the hormone levonorgestrel, which usually results in shorter, lighter periods. Since this hormone is a type of progesterone, there may be negative mood changes in those women vulnerable to depression.