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Warning On Using The Pill for New Mothers

New U.S. Government guidelines suggest caution on starting contraceptive Pill use after giving birth, due to an increased risk of potentially fatal blood clots.

AnnA Rushton

For many women it is vital that effective contraception is in place after they have given birth, but because The Pill contains estrogen there is an increased risk of a blood clot when taken by some new mothers within six weeks of a baby’s birth.

Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that women who have recently given birth and are older than 34, or who had a caesarian, are at greater risk and should not take this form of contraception for at least six weeks after giving birth. The current guidelines suggest that no woman should take these types of oral contraceptives in the first three weeks following delivery.

This is a serious situation as blood clots, if they travel to the lungs or the brain, can lead to serious complications including stroke, shortness of breath or even death, according to one of the guideline’s authors Dr. Naomi Tepper. When she and her colleagues analyzed a number of recent studies to determine whether birth control pills raised the risk of blood clots in new mothers they found that the risk was really much higher than had previously been thought.

About 50 out of 10,000 mothers in the U.S. develop a clot each year and this is significantly higher than for non-pregnant women in their reproductive years. This risk stays high, according to the new findings, during the first six weeks following delivery. That’s due to the changes in clotting factors that occur naturally during pregnancy when there is a decrease in the body’s natural blood thinners.

The risk is even higher if women are older or have had a caesarian section, and when you add in the extra risk of blood clots that is already associated with estrogen use, then the risks would seem to outweigh the benefits of this form of contraception certainly for the first two months.

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