Can You Get Pregnant After Giving Birth?

by Michelle Powell-Smith
A pregnancy test will settle your doubts.

A pregnancy test will settle your doubts.

While closely spaced children can be fun, most of us would rather not find out we're pregnant at a six-week postpartum appointment. Fertility can return faster than you might expect after you give birth, so being prepared is key. Breastfeeding will impact your risk of pregnancy, particularly if you are breastfeeding exclusively. Be smart about the potential of pregnancy to avoid needing those maternity clothes again too soon.

Function

If you are not breastfeeding your new baby, you can become pregnant again as quickly as a few weeks postpartum. After giving birth, you should expect several weeks of postpartum bleeding or lochia, a sign that the uterus is still healing from the pregnancy and birth. In some cases, however, you can ovulate while still experiencing lochia and before your first postpartum period, according to the Baby Hopes website.

Breastfeeding

Breastfeeding your baby will act as a natural form of birth control for the first six months postpartum if certain conditions are met. You should not rely upon breastfeeding as a contraceptive if your menstrual cycle has returned or if you are supplementing breastfeeding with formula. Breastfeeding provides 99 percent effective protection against pregnancy during the early months of your baby's life, according to Planned Parenthood.

Time Frame

Most doctors suggest that you refrain from sex for the first six weeks after giving birth to allow both the uterus and any vaginal tearing to heal fully. Some women may choose to resume sexual activity before this point, while others are not comfortable with sex for some time later. Concerns regarding closely spaced pregnancies continue until your baby is 9 months old, so allow your body time to heal before becoming pregnant again, according to the Dr. Spock website.

Warning

If you are still experiencing postpartum bleeding, your uterus has not yet fully healed and is at high risk for infection. Becoming pregnant only a few weeks postpartum places you at a high risk for both infection and miscarriage, according to the Amazing Pregnancy website. You may also find pregnancy more difficult while caring for an infant and recovering from birth. Anemia is common with closely spaced pregnancies and the risk of prematurity may increase, according to the Dr. Spock website.

Prevention/Solution

Many women do not consider birth control during these first weeks postpartum, and they may not stick to the doctor's recommendation about sexual activity. Be sure to use condoms during this time whenever you plan to have sex. At your first postpartum doctor's visit, choose a birth control method. Use it as suggested to prevent a pregnancy before you're ready.

About the Author

Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing on a variety of subjects from finance to crafts since 2004. Her work appears on various websites. She holds a bachelor's degree and a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, which has provided strong research skills and a varied range of interests.

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