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Spacing children after postpartum anxiety

7 April, 2013

Question:

Hi! I have a question regarding getting a heter for birth control. Unfortunately, my husband and I do not know of a Rav in our city whom we can trust to understand our specific situation. I want to do the right thing though, and take birth control with a heter.

I gave birth to my first child two years ago. I got a heter for birth control for the first six months. I asked another shailo when she was seven months old and got another year. For the past five months, I have remained on birth control but without a heter.

Let me explain my situation and background. After I gave birth to my daughter, I had postpartum anxiety, crazy thoughts, and could not sleep without prescribed sleeping pills. As time passed, the insomnia and anxiety eased but did not disappear. I am in therapy and trying to get healthier.

I feel that if I were to have another child right now, I would not cope. I am afraid that all those things that happened to me the first time around will happen, but only worse. I really am afraid I will have postpartum depression. My mother had it and my sister had postpartum psychosis. I need more time to (a) work on my issues and get to a healthier place where more issues are resolved and (b) for my daughter to get older so that the stress and physical and emotional pressure of having to care for her will be eased. She will be more mature and not as physically exhausting as a toddler so that i will cope better.

I would like to know if I can still stay on birth control and for how long?

Thank you!


Answer:

In this case, you may continue to use contraception until you feel more prepared to conceive psychologically, up to another two years (at which point, you should ask again).  This is in line with the halachic rulings of our site supervisor, Rav Yehuda Henkin, who permits even four years of birth control between children when a primary motivator is being able to take proper care of the current child.  Your own psychological health is a key factor.

B'Hatzlacha with your treatment!


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