Birth Control

Preventing another pregnancy may or may not be on your mind. However, it is absolutely possible to get pregnant again soon after having a baby. Therefore, if you're not ready for another baby, be sure to talk to your practitioner about birth control well before you resume having sex.

Barrier Methods

Barrier methods of birth control are very common. They are easy to obtain and relatively inexpensive. Most methods require at least some thought prior to having sex, though spontaneity is not completely out the window.

Condoms

Condoms protect you from pregnancy by preventing the sperm from reaching the egg. They are about 88 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. If you decide to use a condom with spermicide, you can further decrease chances of pregnancy.

Condoms can be kept around your house and used with water-based personal lubricants. You will need to have them handy for when you want to have sex. This is also a great way to make sex a bit less messy, if speedy cleanup is something to think about.

Diaphragms

This barrier method actually goes inside the vagina and covers the cervix. This prevents sperm from entering the cervix and reaching the egg. With the aid of spermicide, it is considered to be 98 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.

If you used a diaphragm prior to getting pregnant, you will require a new prescription after your baby is born. This is because giving birth may change the size of diaphragm you require, and an ill-fitting diaphragm can lead to an unwanted pregnancy.

Your midwife or doctor must fit a diaphragm, as it is a prescription item. A fitting involves a vaginal exam. You can reuse a diaphragm for about a year before you need to obtain a new one. A cervical cap works much like a diaphragm.

Hormonal Methods

The hormonal methods of birth control are all prescriptive items. There are many new ones out today, each with a different hormonal combination. Only your doctor or midwife can help you find the right combination for you.

Oral Contraceptives (The Pill)

The pill is considered to be about 97 percent effective in preventing pregnancy when taken correctly. There are multiple formulas available for use today. This method of birth control allows for spontaneous sex, but requires that you remember to take a pill at the same time every day. Every missed or late pill can increase your chances of getting pregnant.

There are other considerations to take into account when thinking about the pill. One would be that while you are nursing, you might wish to consider using progesterone-only (mini) pills. Some forms of oral contraceptives can decrease your milk supply. Be sure to let your doctor or midwife know that you are nursing.

Intrauterine Device (IUD)

The intrauterine device is a piece of shaped metal wire. Your midwife or doctor places the IUD into your uterus during a vaginal exam. The IUD prevents pregnancy by discouraging implantation into the uterine lining. Some IUDs actually release hormones as well.

Patches, Rings, and Things

Other delivery systems for hormones are via the patch or a ring. These are both prescriptive medications provided by your practitioner. However, they do not require any action before you have sex. They are always in place.

The patch is simply worn on your hip or shoulder. It delivers a continuous amount of medication through your skin. The patch is changed once a week. It is barely noticeable on the skin and is not worn in an obvious area.

A ring is actually inside the vagina. It also delivers hormones to prevent ovulation. Both of these methods of birth control are easier to use than traditional oral contraceptives.

You may also opt for injectable hormones. They can be given monthly or every three months, depending on your prescription. This requires a visit to your practitioner.

Permanent Birth Control

Permanent birth control is usually chosen after you feel you have completed your family. Some states or physicians will have certain restrictions about whether you are a candidate for permanent birth control. This usually revolves around your beliefs about family and your spouse's beliefs, how many children you have, and your age.

Vasectomy

Vasectomy is permanent surgical sterilization for a male. This procedure involves altering the vas deferens on each side of your husband's scrotum and interrupting the flow of sperm to the penis. This is usually done very quickly and easily in a urologist's office. It is considered 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy.

Your husband will need to return to the urologist after several ejaculations following the vasectomy procedure. A sample of his ejaculate will be tested to ensure that there is no live sperm in it. This is considered very important, to determine the success of the procedure and how safe it is to have unprotected sex.

Many men can have this done on Friday and return to work easily on Monday. Ice packs and tight pants (to prevent bouncing) can be very helpful for dealing with discomfort. Talk to your urologist for more information.

Tubal Ligation

This is female surgical sterilization. It is considered to be more than 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. Female sterilization is more complicated surgery than male sterilization.

If you are planning a cesarean section, you can also request that a tubal ligation be performed during your cesarean surgery. It does not affect your recovery time or the length of your surgery. This is a great option if you want the child delivered through cesarean section to be your last.

This surgery involves interrupting the pathway of the egg to the uterus. It can be done after a vaginal birth, while you are still in the hospital, though it will increase your recovery time. You may be a candidate for what is called Band-Aid surgery, or laproscopic surgery, which consists of small incisions in three or four locations on your abdomen. If you are not a candidate for this type of surgery, it will be required that you have a more open procedure, much like the surgical incision for a cesarean section. You can also choose to have this done after the postpartum period.

Since permanent birth control is considered just that, permanent, you should be very sure you are done having children before opting to have this procedure. Many couples wait until their youngest child is at least a year old before making that decision. Others are completely fine with having permanent birth control done during the birth or shortly afterward. Most forms cannot be undone with much success, despite attempts at reversal surgeries for both men and women.

Breastfeeding as Birth Control

Breastfeeding can be used as a method of birth control. This method takes a lot of research on your part before it can be effective. By using the signs of your body and fertility awareness, you can accurately predict when you will begin ovulation. The book Breastfeeding and Natural Child Spacing by Sheila Kippley outlines the specifics of this method of birth control.

Breastfeeding tends to delay the body's natural return to fertility. This can be a welcomed relief from the potential burden of birth-control worries. However, it is important that you learn more about breastfeeding as birth control, called the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM).

The basics of using breastfeeding as birth control are not hard to follow, but there are quite a few rules. Your baby cannot have supplemental feedings by bottle, no matter what the bottle contains. He also cannot use a pacifier. Additionally, your baby must have free access to the breast, particularly at night. By letting your baby regulate when he nurses, your body responds by suppressing ovulation. Be sure to read up on this method for other very important rules that must be followed to prevent pregnancy.

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