Your fertility can return within weeks after giving birth. Although your body may have barely recovered from childbirth, you may get pregnant when you have sex unless you are fully breastfeeding.

If you are fully breastfeeding and your periods have not resumed, you are protected from pregnancy. (1-2 per cent risk failure rate though). This is known as lactational amenorhoea method (LAM).

“It is therefore important that you use contraception as soon as you start having sex again if you do not want an unplanned pregnancy,” says the Department of General Obstetrics & Gynaecology​, KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital​ (KKH), a member of the SingHealth​ group.

There are many reliable methods of contraception. Some are suitable for breastfeeding while some are not (see tables below). Some women may also not be suitable for certain types of contraception. For example, women with a history of breast cancer should not take the pill while women with a history of pelvic infection, are not suitable for a copper intrauterine device (IUD).

Most methods of contraception are reversible and most women will get pregnant within six months of stopping contraception. Irreversible methods like sterilisation must be considered carefully.

“We do not recommend that women under the age of 35 undergo these methods as they may regret it in future and may not be able to have another child.”

Please consult your doctor on the suitability and safety considerations of the contraceptive methods for you.

Contraception methods suitable for breastfeeding mothers

MethodsReliability (Success rate)Contraceptive durationReversibility How to use
​Levonorgestrel-releasing intrauterine system (IUS)Very high (99.8%)5 yearsYes
  • One time insertion 6 weeks after delivery
  • Short and light periods
Copper intrauterine device (IUD)High (99.5%)3 or 5 years depending on type
  • One time insertion 6 weeks after delivery
Mini pillHigh/ Moderate (96-99%)Daily
  • Take daily
Lactational amenorrhoea method (LAM)High/ Moderate (98-99%)Maximum for first six months
  • Needs full breastfeeding and no menses
Male condom
Female diaphragm
High/ Moderate (85-98%)Per usage
  • Must use before penetration
  • Effectiveness depends on correct technique of usage
Hormonal injectableHigh/ Moderate (98-99%)Monthly or 3-monthly injectables
  • May cause irregular periods

Contraception methods if you are not breastfeeding

Methods​Reliability (Success rate)Contraceptive durationReversibility How to use
Oral combined pillsHigh/ Moderate (97-99.8%)As usedYes
  • Daily oral pills for 3 weeks and one week of “pill holiday”
    (Modern pills do not have the water-retention related weight gain and acne.)

Irreversible methods of contraception

Meth​odsReliability (Success rate)Contraceptive durationReversibility How to use​
Female sterilisationHigh (99.5%)PermanentNo
(If fertility is still desired, the woman has to undergo surgical reversal of the ligation or test-tube in-utero fertilisation pregnancy)
  • Involves permanent blockage of fallopian tubes with clips or cutting segments of tubes under general anaesthesia
  • Can be done immediately after delivery via a mini-incision (postpartum sterilisation or PPS)
  • Can be done 6 weeks after delivery via keyhole surgery (laparoscopy). This method has a lower failure rate than PPS.
Male sterilisation (vasectomy)Most effective (99.95%)PermanentNo
  • Involves cutting or tying vas deferens of male partner

"The New Art and Science of Pregnancy and Childbirth", a pregnancy book by KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH), a member of the SingHealth​ group.

Read on for answers to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about contraception after pregnancy.

Ref: S13