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Expectancy Diaries: How soon after childbirth can one get pregnant again?

Mom Health / Oct 27, 2022 / Vetted by S Gupta, MBBS, MD, FNB-PICU
How soon can you try for a child after giving birth to one?

Every woman cherishes a dream of becoming a mother someday. At some point, they may also be anxious about the changes that motherhood will bring. From planning the first pregnancy, giving birth and feeding the baby, to pregnancy after the first delivery, a bunch of questions hover in a woman’s mind. This article makes an effort to help women understand some basics about health after delivery.

When will I have my first period after delivery?

After months of not having your periods, you may wonder when you will start to menstruate after delivery. While it’s hard to say for sure, your periods will typically not return for several months if you are breastfeeding. The hormone, prolactin, is to blame. It helps your body produce breastmilk, but it also makes it hard for your ovaries to release eggs and for you to have your period.

For women who exclusively breastfeed their babies (even during the night), it may be almost a year before they get their first period. On the other hand, those who bottle-feed or partially breastfeed their baby may get their periods as early as five to six weeks after delivery. The three main factors that decide when you will have them again are:

  • Frequency of bottle-feeding the baby
  • The response of your body to hormonal changes
  • The duration and frequency of breastfeeding

As you reduce the breastfeeds, you may experience some light bleeding or "spotting" at first before the periods return to normal.

Can I get pregnant before my first period?

Yes, it is possible to become pregnant before your first period. While the hormonal changes in your body and your breastfeeding pattern determine the return of your periods, some studies show that in some women, ovulation occurs before the first period.
This may put you at a risk of getting pregnant before your first period. Since you may get pregnant even during the absence of periods or irregular bleeding, it is better to use a birth control measure to avoid pregnancy.

Can breastfeeding help prevent pregnancy?

It is common to think about using breastfeeding as a contraceptive measure. However, breastfeeding can be an effective birth control method only if done perfectly. If you breastfeed exclusively, i.e., you give your baby only breast milk and breastfeed at least every four hours in the daytime and every six hours at night, you "may" be able to prevent pregnancy. This is because you will not ovulate when you exclusively breastfeed and cannot become pregnant.

Breastfeeding is a temporary birth control method and will work only if all three conditions given below are fulfilled:

  • Your periods have not returned after delivery.
  • You are exclusively breastfeeding.
  • It is less than six months after delivery.

However, this method is not 100% effective. Two in 100 women get pregnant even after meeting the above conditions. This method may not help if you use a breast pump or feed your baby anything other than breastmilk. Hence, it is better to use a more reliable contraceptive method.

How long should I wait to get pregnant again after delivery?

When you think of having another baby, you may want to discuss with your doctor when it is safe for another pregnancy soon after giving birth. You may get pregnant again as early as three weeks after delivery, even if you are nursing and your periods have not restarted. Pregnancy after a childbirth that soon, may be risky for you and your newborn.

Your doctor will consider your age, health, and previous deliveries while advising on the next pregnancy. Generally, it is best to wait for at least 18 months to get pregnant again, for the following reasons:

  • Your body gets time to recover post-pregnancy after the first delivery. Here's what you should do:
  1. Give your body the time to replenish its supply of minerals and vitamins.
  2. Allow your uterus to heal from the inflammation of the earlier pregnancy.
  3. Give some time for your vagina to restore its normal condition.
  • Becoming pregnant before 12 months increases the risk of the baby being born prematurely.
  • Your baby may weigh less at birth, putting him/her at risk of long-term health problems.

    Becoming a mother is an overwhelming experience. Talk to a doctor about contraception and spacing between your pregnancies. Take care of your health while you take care of your baby.

    Need a trusted friend to assist you in your parenting journey? Head to BabyG App to get complete access to 1000+ Development Activities, Milestones and Growth Reports, Meal Plans, Recipes, Bedtime Stories, Tips and a global Community of likeminded parents.

    References:

    1. Health direct. Periods while breastfeeding. [2021]
    2. NHS. When will my periods start again after pregnancy? [2018]
    3. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Contraception. [2020]
    4. NHS. Sex and contraception after birth. [2020]
    5. Women’s Health. Getting pregnant again. [2018]
    6. March of Dimes. How Long Should You Wait? [2017]

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