Planning for next time

There are no rule about when to start having sex again after you have given birth to your baby. It is advisable though to wait until after the bleeding has stopped for a few days and you feel ready. This allows time for healing to take place and to prevent infection. It may take longer depending on your own recovery and if you have had stitches or a caesarean section. You may want to use a water based lubricant gel to begin with. Hormonal changes after the birth can make your vagina direr than usual. It is very common during the early months to experience a reduction in sexual desire, due to many factors such as tiredness and adjusting to your new role as a mother. Returning to normal sexual relations is very dependent on the individual. If you have any worries or concerns about this, speak to your Midwife, Health Visitor or GP.

Family planning: you can get pregnant as little as three weeks after the birth of your baby, even if you are breastfeeding. It’s important to use contraception every time you have sex until you are ready to get pregnant again. There are many forms of contraception, ranging from natural family planning, barrier methods – male and female condoms, diaphragms, caps and hormonal contraception – pills and implants. Intra-uterine devices (coil) are also available. Permanent methods are tubal ligation for women and vasectomy for men. Your Midwife, GP, practice nurse and family planning clinic can provide you with advice. It is also important to be aware that most methods of contraception do not protect you from sexually transmitted infections.

Folic acid is a vitamin that’s essential for the healthy development of a baby. It is vitamin B9 and is responsible for cell growth and development. This vitamin is vital to support the development of a baby’s brain and spinal cord. When you are trying to get pregnant again, you should take 400mcg of folic acid daily. Start from the time you stop using contraception until the end of the 12th week of pregnancy. If you find out you are pregnant and have not started taking folic acid, start as soon as you have a positive pregnancy test. If you have pre-existing diabetes, epilepsy treated with medication, coeliac disease, BMI over 30 or you or your family have a history of spinal defects, you will require a higher dose of 5mgs. This is only available on prescription from your doctor.

Measles, Mumps and Rubella vaccination (MMR): It is a good idea to check you’re fully protected against measles, mumps and rubella (German measles) before getting pregnant again. Rubella infection in pregnancy can lead to serious birth defects and miscarriages. If you are not sure if you have had two doses of the MMR vaccine, ask your GP surgery to check for you. The vaccine is given in two separate doses, the second injection is recommended to be given a month after the first. You are strongly advised to avoid getting pregnant for one month after the MMR vaccination. In the event that you find out you are pregnant within a month of an MMR vaccine, or you suspect you were pregnant when you received the MMR vaccination, please contact your Midwife or GP for urgent advice.