So, you are a new mother, congratulations! The days following the birth of your baby are a whirlwind of activities. As you adjust to a new life, as you change another diaper, a positive pregnancy test is the last thing you want to see. In any case, you just gave birth; you obviously cannot become pregnant so soon, right? Unfortunately, pregnancy after delivery is a misconception.
Many women become pregnant within months of giving birth. Most of these pregnancies are unplanned and can throw life out of gear. Taking care of a newborn while pregnant is not something that appeals to most women.
If you want to take charge of your fertility post birth, we are here to lend a hand. Knowledge is power, and we have the answers to your questions.
When Can You Have Sex After Giving Birth?
That is the first question that needs an answer. Most doctors recommend waiting six weeks after you give birth before you have sex. The main thing is to heal first. Once you have a baby, your body and mind are not the same. For many couples, sex is just not interesting in the weeks following childbirth. But there is nothing to stop you from getting intimate if you feel you are ready.
When Can You Expect Your Periods?
All women are different. When your period will return depends on your body. For some women, it takes six weeks, while others may get it after months.
[ Read: Periods After Cesarean Delivery ]
Can You Become Pregnant Again After Delivery?
The first three weeks post birth is the safest period. There is no chance of getting pregnant after delivery this time. But after that, there is no guarantee.
Does Breastfeeding Prevents Pregnancy?
This is a popular belief among women and does have some grain of truth behind it. When you are breastfeeding, your fertility is suppressed, and you are less likely to get your periods. But this is not a foolproof plan to prevent a pregnancy. If you want to breastfeed to work as a birth control, you have to ensure you are feeding your baby at least five times a day, with a minimum feeding time of 10 minutes each (1) . But again, there are women who have become pregnant even while exclusively breastfeeding.
Another thing to keep in mind is that only breastfeeding suppresses fertility. Expressing milk or pumping breast milk does not prevent pregnancy (2) .
[ Read: Pregnancy During Breastfeeding ]
Can You Become Pregnant Before You Get Your Periods?
You may not even be aware when your fertility returns. This is because we associate our fertility with periods. But the fact is you ovulate two weeks before you get your menses. That means you may ovulate and become pregnant without even getting your periods once!
When Can You Start Using Contraception?
The best you can do is use contraception to prevent pregnancy after first delivery. Depending on natural pregnancy prevention methods may work for some women, but it is rather risky if you don’t want to get pregnant too soon. You can start using contraception as soon as 21 days after giving birth. You don’t need to wait till your periods return. Here’s a simple guideline you can follow when it comes to contraception:
- Condoms: You can use both male and female condoms whenever you want.
- Contraceptive Implants: You need to wait for three weeks after giving birth to get a contraceptive implant.
- Progestogen Only Pill: You can use these pills anytime after giving birth.
- Hormonal Contraceptive: If you are breastfeeding, you may avoid using hormonal contraception like the combined pill, the vaginal ring or the contraceptive patch. This is because a small amount of hormone may pass on to your baby through breast milk. But if you do want to use these to prevent a pregnancy, wait till three weeks after giving birth.
- The Shot: If you are planning to get the contraceptive injection, wait till six weeks after birth. This will ensure regular periods. You can go for the shot even before that if you are ready to risk heavy and irregular periods.
[ Read: How Effective Is The Birth Control Shot ]
- IUD Or IUS: If you are looking for something more permanent, you can opt for IUD or IUS. But you’ll need to wait four weeks post birth to get these.
- Diaphragm: You can use a diaphragm six weeks after giving birth.
Why Do You Need To Prevent Pregnancy Soon After Giving Birth?
Many women don’t mind having an Irish twin at home. But there are several reasons why it makes sense to pregnancy after delivery. Here are the major ones:
- Risk Of Premature Birth: The perfect gap between two births is 18 months. Studies show that women who got pregnant within a year of giving birth are more likely to have a premature baby the second time around (3) .
- Low Birth Weight: Babies conceived within six months of the first pregnancy are more likely to have low birth weight.
[ Read: Causes Of Low Birth Weight ]
- Chance To Recover: Pregnancy and childbirth can take a toll on your body and mind. So, you should take some time to recover before you get pregnant again.
- Financial Burden: Having two babies too close in age can be a drain on your budget.
- Physically Demanding: A pregnancy soon after giving birth can be physically taxing. Sleep deprivation and pregnancy don’t make good bed-fellows!
- Stretched Thin: You’ll be stretched thin while taking care of two babies who are close in age. This will also prevent you from enjoying each child individually.
When you want to have a second choice is a decision you have to take. Some families want to get done with the whole child rearing thing quickly. They may prefer pregnancies closer together. Others might want to give undivided attention to each child. And some might not want another child at all! If you are done having babies, it is advisable to go for something permanent, like tube ligation. But if you want to avoid a pregnant again after delivery, make sure to use contraception.
Better safe than sorry!
How long are you planning to wait for your second pregnancy? What is your preferred form of birth control? Tell us in the comments section below!
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