Mums on the pill
Did you know that 29% of British women rely on a daily contraceptive pill as their main source of contraception? That means that the pill is statistically the most popular contraceptive choice in the UK – and at Hana, we are all about making your choice of contraception easily accessible.
Contraceptive pills can be used by many different people through different stages of their life. People take the pill to help protect them against unplanned pregnancies, to control the size of their family or because children aren’t on the cards for them.
Have you thought about starting a family? It’s not necessarily for everyone, but the great thing about contraception in our country is that it gives you control and choice – it is up to you whether or not you want children and, if you do, when, how and how many.
Today, we are chatting to four mums about their experience of having children and returning to contraception. From all different walks of life and parts of the UK, these women have one thing in common – they all started taking the contraceptive pill again after birth.
Taking the contraceptive pill
We recently ran a poll with over 1,000 people, asking women, trans men and non-binary people about their contraception. Unsurprisingly, 51% said that they took their daily contraceptive pill to avoid unplanned pregnancy.
Abbie, who is a first-time mum to 10-month-old Eliza, says: “I have been on the pill since I was 14 or 15. I had been taking it for seven years when I did some research and made the switch to the progestogen-only pill (PoP). I wanted something that better suited my lifestyle, and this option made it so I wouldn’t need to have a break between packs, which was ideal. I didn’t really experience any lasting side effects, and I ended up sticking with it.”
Through the ages
The public’s reaction to the pill has been steadily changing over the past few decades. We’ve gone from only married women having access to the pill in the 60s, the uproar around all women being granted access in the 70s, the introduction of the morning after pill in the 80s and sexuality becoming more discussed and less taboo in the 90s. Now, you can purchase some progestogen-only pills online and over the counter with no need for a GP appointment – instead you have a consultation with a pharmacist to make sure it’s the right option for you.
As accessibility of daily contraception gets better, so does the acceptance of women being in charge of their own reproductive life. It seems like the world is steadily becoming more and more sex positive – and we’re here for it!
Lil, a mum of three children under eight says: “The pill grew in popularity in the 90s, so I hopped straight on that bandwagon with the combined pill, which I took for a couple of years. When I met my partner, I wanted to be protected against pregnancy. I can’t stand needles so couldn’t have the (contraceptive) injection, and didn’t fancy any invasive procedure like getting the coil, so going back on the pill seemed like my best option. I decided to try the progestogen-only pill this time and I never looked back. I have always been so careful about taking it properly, but I actually fell pregnant because I was unwell and the pill hadn’t had a chance to absorb into my system!”
How to take the pill
You should take your pill at the same time every day. The efficiency of the pill can be compromised if you are unwell, so if you experience sickness or diarrhoea within 3-4 hours of taking your pill, it probably won’t have had a chance to absorb into your system. You should take another pill as soon as possible (even if that means taking two in one day), and continue as normal from then on. If you are repeatedly unwell or unwell for a number of days, you should take your pill as normal, but consider using a barrier contraception – like condoms – during this time, and for seven days afterwards. Always check the PIL (patient information leaflet) for advice.
The journey to parenthood
The average age for a new mum in the UK was 29 years old in 2019 and seems to be rising. Whereas 20+ years ago, people were looking to settle down and start having kids much younger, that simply isn’t the case for many people today.
Lil, who just turned 41, tells us: “When I first got pregnant, it was a huge shock. Even though I was in my thirties and loads of my friends were having kids, it wasn’t planned. When I realised that 40 was on the horizon, we decided to try again. It’s not exactly traditional, but I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
We are all unique, and so is each person’s reaction to coming off the contraceptive pill. Your fertility should return soon after you stop taking the contraceptive pill; some people come off the pill and fall pregnant straight away, while some people may try for a few months or longer. Everyone’s ovulation patterns and fertility are different, so not falling pregnant straight away doesn’t necessarily mean there is an issue. If you have been trying to conceive for more than a year (or six months if you are over 35 years old), then you should see a doctor to check why pregnancy may be harder for you.
Sophie’s pregnancy with her daughter, Gigi, wasn’t planned at all. “I came off the pill with the aim of trying cycle-tracking as a contraceptive method, didn’t realise that I was supposed to use a barrier for the first few months and got pregnant! It was an emotional rollercoaster, but a pretty brilliant one!”
Everyone’s story of parenthood begins differently. Some people choose to get married and wait a few years, but others want to start their journey as a parent straight away.
Abbie, 29, says, “I waited until we were back from our honeymoon to come off the pill and start trying. Five months later, I was pregnant. I feel so lucky to be Eliza’s mum, but at the same time sometimes I wonder how something so small can test your patience so much!”
Going back on the pill
There are loads of reasons why a new parent might choose to go on the pill after having a baby and, while there is so much to think about at this exciting time, the contraceptive pill is an option that can easily slot into your new life and routine.
Abbie decided to stay on the PoP (progestogen-only pill) because she was breastfeeding. “I knew I wanted to make sure that I didn’t get pregnant again, so I went back on the pill about 16 weeks after having Eliza.”
“I took the pill for 8 weeks, six weeks after giving birth,” says Carly, who is mum to baby Romell. “I knew I didn’t want to get pregnant again straight away, and wanted to be protected while I worked out what kind of contraception was going to be my best option going forward.”
The great thing about the contraceptive pill is that it fits easily into your lifestyle and gives you control over your body. Progestogen-only contraceptive pills like Hana are suitable for people who are breast-feeding and you can start using Hana in the first 21 days after childbirth. If you start later you should use a condom for 7 days as an extra precaution in addition to taking the pill.
Growing your family
In 2018, the average completed family size for women in England and Wales was 1.89 children per woman. There are a lot of things to consider when thinking about having more children. In Hana’s recent survey, 18% of people said that they take the pill because they want to be able to stop taking their contraceptive at any time.
“I love taking the pill because it gives me control of when and how we grow our family,” says Abbie. “I know that no contraception is 100% effective, but the odds around taking the pill* are so good and it makes me feel much more comfortable knowing that when I next want to have a baby, I can just come off the pill again and start trying.”
Some people like Sophie, 30, might want to entirely avoid experiencing pregnancy again: “I really didn’t like being pregnant or giving birth, so there is more to consider now I’ve done it once, which is why I’m back on the pill.”
Parenthood can be tough and completely different for everyone who experiences it – but it’s important to remember that all parents started out new to parenthood! It’s all well and good having your Gran tell you to ‘sleep when the baby sleeps’, but we know that’s not always going to be the reality…
“You are your own person, and so is your baby,” says Abbie. “Only you will have your mothers intuition and know what is best. Oh, and make time for your other half! Our relationship changed immeasurably when we became parents and we quickly lost sight of how we used to be. Now we schedule regular time to spend together, just the two of us.”
They say it takes a village to raise a child. Community is always important, and trying to have a support system in place to help you as you get to grips with this new chapter of your life will definitely help! Loads of mums meet others through baby groups, some have their family close by to lend a helping hand and some rely on online support networks – you’ve just got to work out what feels best for you. Parenthood can be lonely, but it’s important to remember that you’re never alone.
“Surround yourself with the strongest support network possible,” says Sophie. “Try going to baby groups to meet new mums and don’t be afraid to ask for their phone number or give yours out… I think us Brits are super shy. I felt like I was dating again!”
For all the sleep deprived and distracted parents out there, overwhelmed with both love and washing, we are here for you. When you don’t have time to make or attend a doctor’s appointment, Hana® can be purchased over the pharmacy counter and online (with a pharmacist-reviewed checklist to help ensure it is an appropriate product for you).
Regardless of your situation, we want you to feel in control and empowered when it comes to your contraception, and finding out what’s best for you.
*When used correctly, taken at the same time every single day without breaks, Hana® can be more than 99% effective at helping to prevent pregnancy.
Hana® film-coated tablets. Oral Contraception. Contains desogestrel. Read label.