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How soon can you get pregnant after giving birth?

Post delivering a child, you may wonder when you can have your next one. What would be the ideal wait time? How long should the gap be between two pregnancies? When will you get your first postpartum period? Does breastfeeding affect menstruation?

Can you get pregnant before your first postpartum period?

Yes, you can get pregnant before your first period post-delivery. This can happen as early as within 4 weeks of delivery – before you have your first menstrual cycle. Some women have a sterile period post-delivery i.e. they do no ovulate prior to having the first period, for some, that may not be the case, implying that they can ovulate and get pregnant within weeks of the delivery.

If you feel you are pregnant, do take a pregnancy test to confirm pregnancy such as the Clearblue Rapid Detection Test or the First Response Early Result Pregnancy Test.

What are your chances of getting pregnant?

The time period for post-partum ovulation varies from woman to woman. There is no guarantee that you will ovulate first or menstruate first, so if you are not intending to get pregnant it is best to use contraception right after birth.

You may start having sex post 4 to 6 weeks of delivery. For women who are breastfeeding it may take around half a year for the menstrual cycle to restart, for those who aren’t nursing it is a matter of weeks before the first period starts. Since every woman’s body is different, there is no way to determine the odds of conceiving.

“If trying to fall pregnant, you must visit the doctor to review your health, should track your ovulation cycle, consume folic acid, maintain a healthy weight, exercise and eat well.”

How does breastfeeding affect ovulation and menstruation?

On average, a nursing mother gets her periods later than someone who is not breastfeeding. However, cases have vastly differed from woman to woman. Breastfeeding is supposed to delay the return of the menstrual cycle; this is due to the fact that the hormones that help produce breast milk tend to prevent the body from producing hormones required for ovulation.

However, relying on breastfeeding as a form of contraception may not be the smartest thing to do. This is because there are many breastfeeding patterns that affect the return of the period. It depends on how frequently you are nursing, are you nursing exclusively, do you breastfeed at night, how long do you nurse, how many times do you nurse, etc. Any change in these patterns may cause the menstrual cycle to restart. From weeks post-delivery to months post-delivery the return of the menstrual cycle has varied from nursing mom to nursing mom.

Some mothers introduce solids, use formula supplements, get through nights without having to breastfeed, pump instead of nursing – all these factors change the way your body produces milk and play a key role in resuming ovulation and your menstrual cycle.

Let’s be clear that a period while breastfeeding need not indicate ovulation and not having a period or having irregularities is no guarantee that you have not ovulated. Though nursing is known to delay or slow down ovulation there is a chance that you may get pregnant before your first period even if you are breastfeeding.

How long should you wait before getting pregnant post giving birth?

Ideally, a couple should wait for a year to 18 months before trying to get pregnant again. This has been recommended by both CDC (Centre for Disease Control and Prevention) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

According to research by PubMed Central the risk of premature birth or the baby having a low birth weight increases if you get pregnant within 6 months as compared to those whose gaps range between 18 to 23 months.

It has not been established as to why shorter intervals lead to complications in pregnancies. Though,  it could be due to the fact that the body has still not been able to replenish nutrients and vitamins that are required for the next pregnancy. It may also be attributed to the fact that there is still residual inflammation in the uterus from the last pregnancy. Thus, it is advised to stay clear for the first 12-18 months in order to prevent these complications. It has also been researched that waiting for over five years can lead to complications for both the mom and the baby.

Keep an eye out for these early pregnancy signs if you feel you are pregnant.


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Most women don’t ovulate right after giving birth, however, this varies from women to women. Some start menstruating before others. Each woman will have a different timeframe for becoming fertile again – this is dependent on personal factors like stress, smoking, weight, breastfeeding, contraception choices etc.  As a result of all this, it is best advised to discuss planning your next baby with your doctor before you start trying for one.

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