Postpartum Tubal Ligation

Sterilization After Childbirth

During pregnancy, obstetric care mostly centers on fetal development, maternal health, and preparing for a successful delivery. However, it is also a time to plan for your future, especially if you think your current pregnancy may be the last you want to have. If you are certain that you do not want to become pregnant again, you may want to consider sterilization as a permanent way to prevent future pregnancies. Your obstetrician can perform a sterilization procedure called tubal ligation soon after delivery, while you are still in the hospital. 

How Tubal Ligation Works

During ovulation, the egg travels from the ovary to the uterus via the fallopian tubes. During tubal ligation, the fallopian tubes are surgically blocked, which creates a barrier to prevent the passage of eggs into the uterus. Surgical methods of ligation include tying, cutting, cauterizing, or clamping. Tubal ligation prevents a woman from getting pregnant because it blocks the egg from entering the uterus and prevents sperm from fertilizing the egg. 

After Vaginal Delivery

After a vaginal birth, the patient must wait at least 2-3 hours before tubal ligation can be performed. There is a limited window of time when the procedure can be done, ideally within 48 hours of delivery. The surgery requires a 6-8 fasting period of no food or beverages so that the patient will have an empty stomach at the time of the surgery. During the procedure, the doctor makes a small incision in the abdominal wall, below the belly button to access the fallopian tubes.

After Caesarian Delivery

The doctor can perform tubal ligation surgery at the same time as a C-section, immediately following the birth. The doctor can access the fallopian tubes using the same incision that was made for the delivery, bringing the tubes through the incision to perform the ligation procedure. The hospital stay is the same as a normal C-section. 

Putting Off Tubal Ligation

Sometimes issues with hospital scheduling or postpartum complications may prevent the patient from receiving tubal ligation shortly after delivery. If too much time passes and the uterus shrinks and moves back to its normal position, then the patient will need to reschedule the surgery 4-6 weeks later. 

Surgical Outcomes and Considerations

Tubal ligation is a safe procedure and complications are rare. The surgery is more than 99 percent effective in preventing pregnancy. While safe and effective, the procedure is permanent and cannot effectively be reversed. For a reversible, long-acting form of birth control, consider having an IUD (intrauterine device) placed in the uterus if you are not ready for a permanent solution like tubal ligation. 

For more information about obstetrics surgeries, contact a local doctor.