New guidelines for postpartum contraception also apply after C-sections
updated 7/7/2011 5:09:25 PM ET
New government guidelines suggest that women who have recently given birth and are older than 34 or who had a C-section steer clear of certain types of oral contraceptives.
Scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention concluded that birth control pills containing estrogen could boost the risk of a blood clot when taken by some new mothers within six weeks of a baby’s birth.
All new moms are advised not to take these types of oral contraceptives in the first three weeks following delivery.
Blood clots, if they travel to the lungs or the brain can lead to serious complications, including stroke, shortness of breath, or even death, said one of the guideline’s authors Dr. Naomi Tepper, an ob-gyn in the CDC’s division of reproductive health.
Tepper and her colleagues analyzed a host of recent studies to determine whether birth control pills raised the risk of blood clots in new moms.
“The evidence we looked at showed that the risk was really much higher than we previously thought,” Tepper said. “That is what spurred the change in recommendations.”
The risk of blood clots in women of reproductive age is normally low. But it goes up significantly when women are pregnant and stays high during the first six weeks following delivery — about 50 out of 10,000 recently delivered women develop a clot each year.
That’s because pregnancy leads to changes in clotting factors, said Dr. Beatrice Chen, an assistant professor and director of Family Planning at the University of Pittsburgh. “Pregnancy causes a decrease in the body’s natural blood thinners and an increase in clotting,” Chen said. “That’s something that happens to all women who are pregnant.”