Natural family planning
If you’d rather not succumb to any side effects from a device, or you'd like to avoid contraception due to religious or other beliefs, there are some natural ways you can try to prevent pregnancies (and no, we don’t mean 'pulling out'.) Please keep in mind that these have to be very strictly adhered to, and even so, they aren’t as effective as condoms would be.
Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM)
Within the first six months postpartum, as long as you’re exclusively breastfeeding around-the-clock and haven’t gotten a period, most women aren’t able to conceive yet. Breastfeeding seems to suppress the hormones that normally trigger ovulation. However there is still a chance that you can get pregnant even if all of these conditions are met. So unless you’re a gambling woman, you might want to use some other form of contraception.
Remember how you spent all that time recording your basal body temperature to track your ovulation? Well now you can put that practice to use again, just the other way around. If you know when your body is ovulating, you can avoid having sex around that time. The only problem is that you need to take your temperature at the exact same time after at least three hours of uninterrupted sleep - which was much more feasible pre-baby.
Other methods of charting your fertility signs involve assessing your cervical mucus and any cervical changes. Secondary fertility signs may include mid cycle pain, breast changes or any other signs that you've noticed while charting your fertility. Before deciding on Natural Family Planning as a contraceptive manner, it's highly desirable that you speak with a doctor or nurse who's experienced in this method to ensure you fully understand the signs of fertility.
If you’re using natural family planning or a barrier method, you might want consider emergency contraception such as The Morning After Pill, available over the counter in pharmacies. If taken within 120 hours of unprotected sex, it is 85 percent effective. It won’t terminate an existing pregnancy, but it’s a sensible backup for when your current mode of contraception fails. Plus, it only contains progesterone - not oestrogen - so it's safe to take while breastfeeding.
This article was written by Linda Drummond for Kidspot, New Zealand's leading pregnancy and parenting resource with additional information from Family Planning Victoria.