Postpartum Tubal Ligation – Procedure, Benefits and Risks

What Is Postpartum Tubal Ligation?

The procedure carried out to prevent a woman from conceiving a baby permanently is known as postpartum tubal ligation. This method is an effective contraceptive option which can be performed at the time of a caesarean delivery or immediately after a vaginal delivery. Since the fallopian tubes are closed or removed in this procedure, the egg is prevented from travelling into the uterus through the fallopian tube and the sperm does not reach the egg.

When Is It Performed?

Postpartum tubal ligation is carried out immediately after the baby is delivered through a vaginal delivery. It is usually done before the enlarged uterus returns to its normal position and size. It does not extend your stay in the hospital in any way. If a caesarean section is carried out, the procedure will be done at the same time if you request so. This is a permanent form of birth control and doctors generally recommend it under the following conditions:

  • If you are unable to use any other birth control methods
  • Becoming pregnant could be life-threatening to you
  • You have a serious genetic disease which you could pass on to the baby
  • You have had as many children as you wanted to.

Benefits Of Tubal Ligation After Childbirth

  • Tubal ligation is considered to be a reliable form of birth control since the fallopian tubes are closed leading to lifetime sterilization.
  • Sexual intercourse need not be affected in any way due to a birth control device or spermicide. One also does not need to take pills before or after intercourse to avoid pregnancy.
  • Serious infections like Pelvic Inflammatory Disease (PID) can be avoided due to blocking of fallopian tubes.

Preparing For Postpartum Sterilization Procedure

Before carrying out postpartum sterilization procedure, you should prepare yourself for the same. Organize your care and recovery during the post-operation period, especially by allowing enough time for rest. If you have a family to take care of, ask for help from relatives or friends. If you are a regular smoker or tobacco user, your doctor will ask you to stop smoking before and after the procedure. Smokers are more likely to suffer from breathing related issues during surgery and heal slower than non-smokers post-surgery. If you are a smoker, you are advised to quit smoking at least a couple of weeks before the procedure.

What Happens During The Procedure?

During postpartum sterilization procedure, you will be given a local or regional anaesthetic so that it numbs specific parts of your body while you remain conscious. However, it keeps you from feeling the pain of surgery. The general anaesthetic is given to relax the muscles, puts you to sleep and keeps you from feeling pain.

During the procedure, the doctor makes an incision just below the navel or the belly button. This is done because during pregnancy, the uterus is enlarged and the fallopian tubes are situated in the abdomen. In this manner, the doctor is able to reach the tubes for clamping, sewing or tying them up as desired. After this closing process is done, the incision is covered with dissolving stitches and bandages and left to heal.

The Tubes Are Clamped, Sewed Or Tied

What Happens After The Procedure?

The procedure does not add any kind of discomfort to that of childbirth birth itself nor will you have to stay for a longer period due to it. Make sure you speak to your doctor about the actual period of recovery, the kind of activities you should avoid and how you should take care of yourself while at home. Ask for the next check-up appointment date before you leave the place.

How Long Can Postpartum Sterilization Take?

The postpartum sterilization procedure takes about 30 minutes to be completed. Also since it is usually carried out immediately after or during childbirth, it does not extend your stay at the hospital in any way.

When Should You Avoid Postpartum Sterilization?

It is best to avoid postpartum sterilization when you are going through difficult times or period of extreme emotional stress like a divorce or the death of a person you were close to. Especially avoid it if you are being pressurized by a partner to do this or another family member. Women who are below the age of 30 should think before committing to this procedure as they are more likely to regret it later. If you have had serious complications with the baby, it is best to postpone postpartum sterilization.

Risks & Side-effects Of This procedure

Every medical procedure has its own set of risks and side-effects. Check out those associated with postpartum sterilization:


  • During the process, intestines, glands, blood vessels and abdominal organs could be damaged and abdominal surgery to repair them may be required. This, however, is a rare event.
  • Anaesthesia has to be administered professionally and could carry some risks if not done correctly. It is best to discuss this with the doctor before the process is undertaken.
  • Inflammation of the abdominal wall lining is a possible side-effect.
  • Pelvic organs could get permanent scar tissues or adhesions.
  • During this procedure, a blood clot could break off, enter the blood stream and block arteries in the legs, pelvis or lung. In rare cases, a blood clot could clog a brain or heart artery which could lead to a stroke or a heart attack.
  • The procedure could also lead to bleeding or infection.
  • Although, it is a lifetime permanent sterilization process, there are slight chances of the woman becoming pregnant despite tubal ligation. In this case, this will be a pregnancy outside the uterus which can be dangerous for the woman. Further surgery will be needed to terminate the pregnancy.

Side effects:

Depending upon the kind of anaesthesia used and the manner in which the surgery is performed, you could face certain side effects after postpartum tubal ligation procedure. There will be a general feeling of tiredness and you could also expect pain in the abdominal area. The following side effects can occur too:

  • If general anaesthesia was used during this surgery, you could have a sore throat due to the breathing tube inserted.
  • A bloated feeling
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Abdominal cramps
  • Shoulder pain

Speak to your doctor if the abdominal pain refuses to let go and increases in severity or if you have fever.


  1. What Kind Of Anaesthesia Is Used?

During postpartum Tubal ligation, anaesthesia is used to eliminate any pain that will be caused. The anaesthesia is of two types: general and spinal.

For spinal anaesthesia, the specialist will inject your lower back with the medicine. This will cause the portion from below the rib cage to become numb and immune to pain. You may still feel some movement and pressure during the actual procedure.

For general anaesthesia, you will be fitted with an oxygen mask and an IV will help the medicines to enter your veins. You will feel sleepy and relaxed. A breathing tube will be inserted through the windpipe to help you breathe with ease.

  1. Are There Any Alternatives for Postpartum Sterilization?

It is necessary to consider a few alternatives before opting for this procedure. The alternatives include condoms, vasectomy, birth control pills and intra-uterine devices. Speak to your doctor about your needs before making a selection.

  1. What If You Decide To Become Pregnant After Postpartum Sterilization?

There is a possibility of a change of mind about becoming a mother after the postpartum sterilization is carried out. However, attempts to reverse this process do not meet with much success. Even after tubal ligation is reversed, women are still unable to conceive a baby. Even if the pregnancy happens, it could be an ectopic pregnancy which could be risky for the mother.

Postpartum Tubal Ligation is a permanent method of contraception and the decision to go ahead with it should be a well-thought one. The couple should considered every scenario before taking this step as reversal is quite difficult and there are alternatives available which can be equally effective.

Also read: Natural Family Planning – Fertility Awareness Methods