If you have recently given birth, you may have heard that you do not need to be concerned about getting pregnant for a while, especially if you are breastfeeding. But is that accurate?
In this article, we will discuss what the truth is about how soon you can get pregnant after giving birth. We will also discuss if breastfeeding is an effective method of birth control and how to process your option if you discover that you are unexpectedly pregnant soon after giving birth.
How Soon Can You Get Pregnant After Giving Birth?
Several conditions are necessary for pregnancy to occur, and they include:
- Ovulation and the egg entering one of the fallopian tubes
- The presence of sperm
- Fertilization of the egg by a sperm in the fallopian tube
- The fertilized egg travels through the fallopian tube to the uterus and implants in the uterine lining, where it continues to develop
So in order to become pregnant, you have to ovulate. Knowing this, you may wonder how soon you can ovulate after giving birth. The answer is that most women ovulate about six weeks after giving birth if they are not breastfeeding. But, it is possible to ovulate as soon as three weeks after giving birth, which means that it is vital to have a birth control plan in place to prevent another pregnancy.
Can You Use Breastfeeding as a Birth Control Method?
Many women ask if breastfeeding is a reliable method of contraception. The simple answer is – it depends. Some women do not ovulate while they are breastfeeding, and some women do. The problem is that you won’t know which applies to you, so it is best to use a dependable method of birth control any time you want to prevent a pregnancy from occurring.
It is less likely (but still possible) that you will ovulate while breastfeeding if all five of the following conditions are present:
- Your baby is under six months old.
- Your baby is exclusively breastfed – meaning your baby does not receive nourishment from any other source.
- Intervals between breastfeeding are no longer than four hours during the day and six hours at night.
- You do not use a breast pump.
- You have not had a period since you gave birth.
Next, we will clear up four common myths about getting pregnant again after giving birth.
Myth #1: You can’t get pregnant after giving birth if you haven’t had a period yet.
You can get pregnant even if you have not had a period yet after giving birth. In a typical menstrual cycle, you ovulate about two weeks before your period starts, but many women do not ovulate before their first post-birth period.
However, many women do ovulate without warning before their first post-birth period. This means you can give birth, not have a period for three months, ovulate, and get pregnant again without ever having a period after giving birth.
Myth #2: You can’t get pregnant if you have sex when you are not currently ovulating.
Are you someone who knows when she is ovulating? Maybe you experience ovulation pain on one side or other symptoms that signal ovulation. Can’t you simply avoid having sex when you know you are ovulating to prevent pregnancy? No, and the reason for this is that you can ovulate after you have sex.
According to Mayo Clinic, sperm can live for up to five days in the female reproductive tract. This means that if you don’t feel like you are ovulating and have unprotected sex but then ovulate five days later, you could become unexpectedly pregnant.
Myth #3: You can’t get pregnant if you are breastfeeding.
For the reasons we previously discussed, you can definitely get pregnant if you are breastfeeding.
Myth #4: It’s fine to space your pregnancies close together.
The reality is that your body needs time to recover from a pregnancy. March of Dimes recommends to wait at least eighteen months after giving birth before becoming pregnant again.
When you give your body a chance to recover between pregnancies, you reduce the risk of:
- Premature birth
- Baby being small for gestational age (SGA)
- Low birth weight
- Congenital disorders
- Maternal anemia
- Long-term health problems
After you give birth, you are adjusting to a disrupted sleep schedule, caring for a newborn, and healing from childbirth all at the same time. You deserve to take care of yourself, so give yourself time to recover and adjust before becoming pregnant again.
If you do unexpectedly become pregnant, help is available.
What To Do if You Become Pregnant Soon After Giving Birth
Unexpected pregnancies happen every day, and it is not the end of the world if you discover you are pregnant soon after giving birth. You may even know someone who successfully had pregnancies close together.
If you have recently given birth and are pregnant again, your first step is to be gentle with yourself. You probably feel shocked, and you need time to process the news. Be sure to see your healthcare provider as soon as possible so they can provide you with guidance for a healthy pregnancy.
But what if you feel that you cannot possibly continue your pregnancy? In that case, take a deep breath and seek support from an unbiased pregnancy center where you will not be judged for considering abortion.
Willow Womens Center is a safe place to process your thoughts and options about an unexpected pregnancy without judgment. We are a medical clinic with licensed professional healthcare providers who can walk with you as you process your doubts and questions.
You do not need anyone to tell you what to do about your unexpected pregnancy. At Willow Womens Center, you will feel empowered after getting the answers to all your important questions and you will be ready to make an informed decision.