Keeping Your Birth Control On Track While Traveling

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Birth Control Travel

Is your next getaway, babymoon, or family visit taking you across time zones? We’ve got the scoop to keep you protected so you can relax and enjoy your time away. Find your favorite birth control method in the list to learn what preparations you should make before your trip.

IUDs and Other Long-Term Contraception

Old rules said you had to wait 6 weeks before getting an IUD after giving birth. Now, many doctors are comfortable inserting an IUD much sooner–like, when you’re still in the delivery room. If you chose this option, you may have had your birth control in place within minutes of delivering the placenta.

Good news: You’re all set! Jet lag won’t affect the efficacy of your IUD. Hop on a plane and have a great time!

Condoms

Condoms are another great birth control option. They’re inexpensive, convenient, and don’t take up much room in your suitcase. They’re also easy to find and purchase without a prescription, so you can replenish your stash if needed more easily than replacing lost or damaged medication. Consider these pro tips if you’re using condoms as a preferred birth control option:

  1. Bring extras if you prefer internal/”female” condoms or need latex-free versions, as these may be harder to find.
  2. Pack birth control in your carry-on, not your checked luggage, in case your suitcase gets lost in transit.
  3. Road-tripping? Don’t leave condoms in the car during freezing or hot weather. Extreme temperatures can damage condoms and make them less effective.

Birth Control Pill or Patch

Packing more birth control supplies than you think you’ll need is a prudent choice. You never know when an unexpected delay could strike. It’s better to have an extra pack on hand than have to scramble or go without, especially because missing pills could impact the efficacy of your birth control for the next month.

Birth control pills work best when you take them at the same time. Depending on the type of pill you’re using, even a matter of hours (say, the six hours between New York and Amsterdam time) could make a difference. Factor in the distraction of making it to your gate on time with your luggage, and it’s even easier to forget to take a pill. Use these tips to remember:

  1. Set a reminder alarm on your phone to take a pill or change a patch
  2. If the time difference makes your usual dose time inconvenient, shift it by an hour or two for a few days before your trip to avoid spotting
  3. When shifting birth control doses, shorten the hours between doses, rather than lengthening the time, so you still get full protection
  4. If you forget a pill, take it as soon as you remember, even if it means taking two pills that day
  5. If you skip two or more days of daily birth control, use a back-up form of contraception for the next month
  6. Check your patch before and after a swim to make sure it’s in place

Breastfeeding

Many breastfeeding parents enjoy an extra benefit: Nursing an infant full-time has been shown to have a contraceptive effect! The Lactational Amenorrhea Method, where you don’t get your period while exclusively breastfeeding, works best when your infant is under 6 months old and gets all their nutrition from you.

Babies’ schedules can be disrupted by traveling, just as adults can get jet lag. If you disrupt your nursing schedule, or rely more on pumping than breastfeeding, it’s not a bad idea to pack back-up contraception like condoms.

Pack all the nursing and pumping supplies you’ll need for your trip, including your breast pump, tubes and flanges, bottles, and milk storage supplies. Read up on travel regulations. You should be able to bring pumped milk for your baby on board a plane, but some parents have encountered difficulty from airline employees who didn’t understand breastfeeding and pumping rights. Educate yourself on the actual rules so you’re prepared to advocate for yourself if necessary.

Jessica Sillers
Jessica Sillers is a parenting and finance writer whose work has been featured in Pregnancy & Newborn, Headspace, and more. As a new mom herself, she’s passionate about helping other parents find the community and support they need. When she’s not writing, she loves spending time with her family, reading, and hiking.

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