Sex is probably the last thing on your mind when you're getting up several times a night with a newborn. But according to Contraceptive Technology, the definitive medical textbook on birth control, most women have already resumed having intercourse within several weeks of their baby's birth -- even though health experts recommend women refrain from it until their first postpartum checkup, typically at four to six weeks, to allow their bodies time to heal.
Since your ability to conceive can return as soon as a few weeks after birth, don't wait until after the baby is born to decide what contraception to use. "Ideally, you should start thinking about postpartum birth control months before you have your baby," says Sharon Schnare, a certified nurse-midwife and family nurse-practitioner in Seattle. Discuss options with your doctor, midwife, or nurse-practitioner during one of your prenatal visits or at least during the hospital stay following the birth. The important thing is to have a plan before you go home.
Nearly every method of contraception is available to new mothers, although some factors, such as a change in the size of your cervix following childbirth and whether you're nursing, must be considered. Whether you're newly pregnant, about to deliver, or have brought your infant home, read on to decide which method will be right for you.