What to Know About Family Planning Once You’re Married

Three pairs of feet sticking out of a bed: dad, baby, and mom.

First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes baby in a baby carriage—but only if you want it to.

Whether you waited to have sex until the wedding night or you lived together long before you even got engaged, family planning is a serious conversation that all couples should have before they tie the knot, even if one or both of you already have children. We can’t stress this enough: having a 100% understanding of how your partner feels about children, when or if they’d like to start a family, and what methods of birth control you’ll be using is crucial before you even set the date.

So, no matter if you’ve got baby fever or the thought of a baby is completely off the table for you right now, it’s important to plan, talk, and visit your physician if you have any questions or concerns. Here’s what to know about family planning once you’re married.

If You Want to Start a Family Right Away, Make a Doctor’s Appointment

A young woman meeting with a young female doctor.

Do you and your spouse have babies on the brain? Can you not walk past a child without dreaming about what your own kid will be like? If you and your spouse are ready to take that plunge into parenthood together, you’ll need to determine the healthiest and safest way to stop your birth control methods shortly after the wedding (or even before, if you’re really ready right now).

If you’re currently using the pill or an IUD, your doctor will recommend when and how to stop as well as give advice on what prenatal vitamins to start taking. She will also teach you about your ovulation schedule, when the best days to conceive are, and the next steps to take if you’ve been trying to conceive with no luck so far.

The most important thing is to relax and don’t panic if you can’t conceive right away. Just because you don’t get pregnant immediately doesn’t mean that there are any fertility problems present.

Want to Wait? Continue or Start Birth Control Methods

A woman applying a contraceptive patch to her back.

If the thought of having a baby right now just isn’t in the cards or you simply aren’t ready yet, you’ll need to either continue or start effective birth control methods immediately. Luckily, there are many forms of effective birth control that you can choose from, and it’s absolutely worth having a conversation with your doctor to determine which method is right for you.

The most common types of birth control for use by women are the following:

  • The birth control pill
  • The intrauterine device (IUD)
  • The birth control shot
  • The birth control patch
  • The vaginal ring

Don’t Want Kids? Talk to Your Doctor About Options

Not everyone is meant to be a parent, but it’s likely you don’t want to spend your entire marriage going through boxes of condoms or calculating when you’re ovulating. If you and your partner are pretty dead set on not having children, then you should consider your options of permanent birth control, which can include a vasectomy, a tubal ligation, and a non-surgical permanent form of birth control. All of these options have their pros and cons, which you can weigh out with your trustworthy physician who will guide you in making the right decision.

If you suspect that you might want to have children in the future, you shouldn’t do anything permanent until you’ve firmly made a decision one way or the other. Remember, there should be no guilt or shame associated with whatever decision you make, just as long as you can reach that decision together.

LGBTQ+ Couples Have Many Options for Family Planning

Two married women holding their baby in a living room.

For LGBTQ+ couples, family planning may look a little different but requires a similar amount of time, effort, and research in order to be effective. For those couples who wish to adopt a child, you’ll need to decide whether you’ll go through a traditional adoption agency or whether you’ll foster to adopt. You will need to hire a family attorney who can help you navigate the process and ensure that you have full legal rights to the child.

There is also the option of surrogacy for some couples, which can be a traditional egg donor or an unknown egg donor. The financial commitment of a surrogate can depend on several things such as how many previous pregnancies the egg donor or surrogate has had, and the amount of lost wages, travel costs, medication, etc. you’ll have to pay. Finally, there is the option of seeking out a sperm donor if you or your partner are able to carry a baby. With this option you can choose between a known and an unknown sperm donor and whether or not you will be artificially inseminated at a doctor’s office or at home.

Just like heterosexual couples, all of these options should be expressly discussed with your spouse—and both partners should always be on board when it comes to making family planning decisions.

Completely Unsure? You Should Still Be Using Some Form of Contraception

If you and your partner are still unsure of when or if you even want to start a family, it’s best to use at least some form of contraception, whether that’s a condom or a diaphragm. Although less effective, there are also “natural family planning” methods that some couples prefer to use that rely on tracking a woman’s menstrual cycle instead of taking pills or using devices to prevent pregnancy.

Traditional methods of contraception such as birth control pills and IUDs are, however, the most effective tools to preventing unwanted pregnancies. Talk to your physician to see which method would be the best option for you.

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