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American Desert



What are contraceptives?


Otherwise known as "birth control," contraception are methods used to delay a pregnancy until you are ready and prepared to become pregnant and raise your child. These methods range from timing of sex, to medical interventions.


Let's begin by discussing fertility. This means knowing something about your menstrual cycle (periods). Your menstrual cycle includes all the changes from the first day of one period to the first of the next period. This is called the "menstrual cycle." Women who have a regular monthly period ovulate about two weeks BEFORE their next period is scheduled to start. If your periods are regular, you can predict when you ovulate (body sends out an egg) and when you are likely to able to get pregnant. Knowing this about your body helps to either PREVENT pregnancy OR plan a pregnancy. You can only get pregnant around ovulation. Eggs live 12-24 hours. Those sneaky sperm, however, can live three to five days. And sometimes even seven days! 


You can track your period using a calendar or an APP. There are many APPS to be able to calculate your fertility cycle and they are (mostly) free. One is call "Flo." You can search online to find other APPs.


Contraceptive methods include the birth control pill/patch/ring. These are medications that include progesterone and often estrogen. (See menstrual cycle for hormones). These methods are under your control There are advantages and disadvantages. Advantages include making your monthly hormones less likely to cause mood swings, improving your complexion, and having lighter periods. These must be prescribed by your health care provider.


Another set of birth control devices are called LARCS. Long acting reversible contraceptives. These include intrauterine devices (with or without the hormone progesterone) or a copper intrauterine device which has no hormone.  Also, the etonorgestrel rod (branded as Nexplanon) which goes into your arm. The advantages of all of these methods include being highly effective. Disadvantages include that they must be placed and removed by your healthcare provider. IUDs can last 3,5,7 or even more than 12 years. If you choose this type of device, you do not need to keep the device in for that long.


Some women do not want long term devices or methods where they have to see a healthcare provider. These methods can include male condoms (the only method that can prevent sexually transmitted infections), a female condom, or a diaphram (inserted before sex by oneself) and kept inside the vagina for at least 6  hours after sex. Additionally, there are spermicides, which kill sperm.


Additionally, knowing when you ovulate (see information about APPs above) can help you know when or when not to have sex if you do not want to become pregnant. Or to plan WHEN to have sex if you DO want a pregnancy.


Finally, there is the morning-after pill, also known as emergency contraception. This method involves a pill taken after (oops) that unplanned encounter to decrease the risk of pregnancy. You must take this pill (hormone) within five days of the encounter for it to work. PLAN B is available over the counter. Ella must be prescribed by that great healthare provider. The hormone free IUD known as Paragard (copper IUD) can also be an emergency contraceptive if placed within five days.


See the following sites for more information:

FREE Contraception Handouts 








Postpartum period

The postpartum period, also known as the "fourth trimester," typically refers to the time from birth up to 12 weeks after the baby because the effects of pregnancy on many systems have largely returned to the pre-pregnancy state by this time.  However, some investigators consider postpartum to extend as long as 12 months after delivery.  There are bodily changes and medical issues that may arise during this period. It is important to be monitored during this time because of the psychological needs of the postpartum mother while also being sensitive to cultural differences that surround birth and postpartum, which may involve eating particular foods and restricting certain activities.


This topic offers the handouts listed below as an overview of normal physiologic changes and routine maternal care during the postpartum period. There is also an overview of postpartum disorders and complications and their management.  Review and download the following handouts as you choose.

Postpartum Body Changes You Should Know About

Postpartum doulas: Motivations and perceptions of practice

Physical Activity and Exercise During Pregnancy and the Postpartum Period

Your Six-Week Postpartum Checkup:  A Health Care Guide for New Mothers (Spanish Version)


La preeclampsia: después del embarazo
Lo que puede hacer para reducir sus riesgos durante su próximo embarazo

Gestational Diabetes:  What Happens After
My Baby Is Born?

Optimizing Postpartum Care

Your Six-Week Postpartum Checkup:  A Health Care Guide for New Mothers

After Your Baby Is Born: What
to Expect Postpartum

Preeclampsia: After Pregnancy
What you can do to decrease your risk during your next pregnancy

What could you expect during postpartum?

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