What’s Best For My Body? Your Personal Postpartum Birth Control Guide

Postpartum Birth Control Guide, pills on top of a calendar with a pencil

You’ve made it!

You’re finally no longer pregnant. I know at one point you convinced yourself you’d be pregnant forever.

Your baby is here, and now you can breathe a sigh of relief.

But, not so fast…

You’ve recently survived labor and navigated a roller coaster of emotions. Now you’re in the newborn stage…neck-deep in diapers, sleepless nights, and of course…

Baby snuggles! 

This is everything you’ve patiently (or impatiently) awaited.

Now, your body and mind are healing as you enter the newborn world. 

But… make sure you’re not forgetting a very important detail.

Amidst the adorable chaos, there’s one thing you cannot afford to overlook…

Postpartum birth control. 

Yes, believe it or not, you can get pregnant far sooner than you plan if you’re not careful. 

I know what you’re thinking… 

Birth control? I just had a baby… We’re not even thinking about having another yet!

I get it…

This may not be the first thing on your mind right now. You’re not exactly under perfect conditions for getting frisky. Between diaper blowouts, round-the-clock-feedings, and your tired body healing…

You may not be thinking about having sex with your partner. 

But listen…

When the stars align and it’s time for some adult activities, you’ll be happy you created a “protection plan” of sorts.

Let’s go over some postpartum birth control options to make sure you’re prepared. 

Medical and Hormonal Birth Control Options

You’ll need your doctor to prescribe these.

Many medical birth control choices are hormonal while some are not. 

If you are looking into hormonal options, chances are they contain the hormone progestin. This is the man-made version of progesterone. 

Progesterone occurs naturally in your body. Its main function is to prepare the lining of your uterus for a fertilized egg to grow and thrive.

Basically, it’s the hormone that cultivates a healthy pregnancy. It’s also responsible for running the menstrual cycle “show”. 

So here’s the thing…

Progestin pretends to be progesterone… 

But instead of supporting a pregnancy, it’s like a strict bouncer at a club. It’s not letting anyone uninvited crash the party. It sends a clear message to your ovaries… 

No eggs allowed! 

It’s also kind of a trickster. In a way, it tells your body you’re already pregnant, so your body can’t allow another pregnancy to happen. 

It also thickens the mucus in your cervix, creating a tricky barrier for sperm to enter.

Hormonal birth control could be the right way to go for you. All of the following options have a 91% to 99% success rate when used correctly.

Let’s review a few.

The “Depo” Shot

The Depo-Provera or “depo” shot is a shot of progestin administered in the upper arm. You’ll need to get this shot every few months for it to be effective.

If you go this route, you may want to set your doctor appointment in advance. If you’re late in receiving the shot, the effectiveness decreases substantially.


  • Doesn’t require a daily reminder
  • Lasts for 3 months
  • Can decrease cramping and blood flow during menstruation


  • You must get a shot every 3 months
  • Can cause irregular bleeding
  • Easy to forget about 

Pill, Ring, and Patch

Each of these options includes the hormones estrogen and progestin. There are several ways for these hormones to enter your body and prevent pregnancy.

The “Classic” Pill:

This one is a classic for a reason. One pill a day, no injection, no insertion. Just a pill.

For birth control pills to be most effective, you’ll need to take your pill daily at the same time.


  • Easy to fit into your daily routine
  • May decrease acne
  • Can keep your cycle regular


  • Must take it everyday
  • Risk of blood clots increases
  • Potential headaches and nausea
  • Mood changes

It’s up to you! When used perfectly, the pill is 99% effective.

Vaginal Ring: 

This option releases hormones (estrogen and progestin) directly into your vaginal lining. It is a small, soft plastic ring that you can insert yourself.


  • Easy to insert (like a tampon)
  • Lasts for one month
  • Doesn’t need to be in a specific position to work


  • Easy to forget about
  • May cause headaches, nausea, and breast tenderness
  • Risk of blood clots
  • Mood changes

Birth control patch

This birth control method secretes hormones through your skin. It is a small, beige piece of plastic that looks like a bandage.


  • Not daily
  • Periods are likely to be shorter and lighter
  • Weight is unlikely to be effected
  • 91% effective


  • May cause irregular spotting
  • Possible mood changes
  • Potential breast tenderness and nausea
  • Weekly change-out


The birth control implant method is stealthy and low-maintenance. Once inserted under the skin in your arm, it releases a steady stream of progestin.


  • Lasts for 3 years
  • 99% effective and very little room for error
  • Discreet and hidden


  • Periods can become irregular
  • May interfere with other medications and antibiotics
  • A doctor must insert and take it out for you


IUDs come in both hormonal and non-hormonal versions. So, you’re able to pick what works best for you. 

Both choices are convenient and reversible. As soon as you want to be pregnant again, you can have it taken out and begin trying for another! 

Here’s how it works: 

Your doctor will give you a pelvic exam to make sure you are suitable for an IUD. After the exam, they’ll insert the IUD into your uterus. 

Hormonal version: This version of the IUD releases progestin into the uterus. There are many brands to choose from. Depending on the brand, they can last anywhere from 3 to 8 years. 

Non-hormonal version: The copper IUD is non-hormonal and releases copper into the uterus. Sperm does not like copper and it interferes with its movement. Copper IUDs can last up to 10 years. 


  • 99% effective 
  • Convenient 
  • Reversible 
  • Lighter periods are possible


  • Might have discomfort after insertion
  • Chance of expulsion or displacement 
  • Risk of infection
  • Not right for everyone

Male or Female Sterilization

Now, this form of birth control requires a big decision. 

Either male or female sterilization is basically irreversible. When this option is thrown in the mix, it means you are planning to be done having kids. 

Here’s how they work… 

Female sterilization or “tubal ligation”: 

Remember, this is a surgical procedure that is not easily reversed. A tubal ligation involves cutting, clamping, or banding your fallopian tubes to keep eggs away from sperm fertilization. 


  • No more birth control
  • Easily performed right after childbirth (vaginal or c-section)
  • Several versions of this procedure exist to meet your needs


  • Basically irreversible
  • Does not protect against STDs 
  • Expensive 

Male sterilization or “vasectomy:”

This permanent form of birth control is for your male partner. 


Once again, this is another surgery that should be considered irreversible. It can be tricky and uncomfortable to reverse a vasectomy. So if you’re thinking of having your partner go through this, make sure you are definitely done having kids. 

During this procedure, the ends of the vas deferens (tubes that carry sperm), are closed off. It’s typically an out-patient procedure, so your partner is in and out on the same day. 


  • No more birth control worries 
  • Very low-risk 
  • High success rate (only 1 in 10,000 fail)


  • Reversals are difficult
  • Does not protect against STDs
  • Risk of infection after procedure

Non-Pharmacological Options


Condoms are the classic barrier birth control method. There are both female and male condoms available to buy without any prescription! 

Here’s the thing though… 

Female condoms are about 75% to 82% effective with regular use. It’s difficult to use any kind of condom perfectly, so plan for error. 

Male condoms have similar effectiveness. They are about 87% effective with typical use. 

Never use male and female condoms at the same time. This may cause ripping or tearing, which decreases effectiveness. 

Fertility Awareness and Tracking

You might be thinking the only people who track fertility are those who want to be pregnant. 

Well.. that’s where you’re wrong. 

Tracking your ovulation can tell you exactly when to not have intercourse… or at least when to use more protection. 

Fertility tracking puts the power back in your hands. It gives you the knowledge to make informed decisions about your reproductive health. 

There are many amazing tracking apps to use. 

Here are a few of the best ones: 

Here’s how they work: 

Many of the apps will ask you a series of questions about your menstrual cycle and it’ll do the “period math” for you. As your period happens, you will track the days, and the app will tell you your predicted days of ovulation. 

It’s a great tool for both avoiding and planning pregnancy. And the best thing… you learn a little bit more about your body. 

Embodying self-awareness is extremely empowering, believe me. 

Many period tracking apps can be used in tandem with barrier birth control methods. Especially if putting extra hormones into your body concerns you. 

Here’s the kicker though…

You have to hold yourself accountable. 

If you think that’s suitable for you, give it a try!

Birth Control While Breastfeeding

Now, I know what some of you may be wondering…

Isn’t breastfeeding a form of birth control? 

Short answer: No. 

Long Answer: 

While it is true that breastfeeding can suppress ovulation and delay the return of your cycle… It’s not foolproof.

Actually, it only slightly decreases your chances. And that’s if you are exclusively breastfeeding every 4 to 6 hours. If you’re solely relying on breastfeeding as your postpartum birth control, you might be in for a surprise. 

The baby kind. 

So, with this information in mind, here are a few breastfeeding-safe birth control options

  • IUDs (both hormonal and copper)
  • Mini Pill (only includes progestin) 
  • All barrier methods
  • Implant
  • Depo Provera shot 
  • Cycle tracking
  • Male or female sterilization 

You have many, many options to choose from! Speak with your care provider about what will work best for your body and lifestyle. 

Talk to Us

Lastly, we are here for you.

Our postpartum doulas are a wonderful resource to answer your postpartum questions. Even if you’re not sure what you need. Let’s find out together!

The postpartum whirlwind is a lot to go through alone. So, don’t!

Reach out to us, we’d love to hear from you. Contact us here!

Also check out: Breastfeeding and Birth Control

About Christie Collbran

Christie believes in helping women recognize their own inner wisdom, strength and power. Having served as President of the Tampa Bay Birth Network for six years and with ten years serving families as a birth doula, she has a reputation for leadership, dedication and compassion. A childbirth educator, certified lactation counselor as well as a certified doula, she makes a point of ensuring mothers and their partners understand all their birthing options and what to expect on their journey.> keep reading