Postpartum Surprise: Is it Possible to Get Pregnant Right After Giving Birth?Jan 06, 2023
by Stephanie Larson
Did you recently give birth? Congratulations! This special time when you’re in your cozy postpartum bubble with your new baby is precious. You have your hands full, caring for your beautiful baby, and your body has recently been through the rigors of pregnancy and childbirth, so you may worry that you’ll get pregnant again unintentionally, right after giving birth. How can you reduce this possibility? The answer isn't always straightforward, so let's take a closer look at the factors that can affect postpartum fertility.
What if my period hasn’t come back yet?
During pregnancy, your body produces higher levels of the hormone progesterone, which suppresses ovulation and prevents the release of eggs from the ovaries. This prevents you from becoming pregnant again while you’re already pregnant. After giving birth, it takes time for your body to return to its pre-pregnancy state and resume ovulating. Exactly how long this takes can vary from person to person. Just because you haven't gotten your period back yet after giving birth, it doesn’t mean that you can’t get pregnant yet. Some people conceive right after giving birth, even before their first postpartum period. This is because it's possible to ovulate and release an egg before your first period, especially if you're not exclusively breastfeeding during the day and the night. To help prevent a surprise pregnancy, use a reliable method of birth control.
What if I’m breastfeeding?
You might have heard that if you’re breastfeeding you won’t get pregnant, but there’s more to it than that. Exclusive breastfeeding or chestfeeding day and night can help delay the return of your menstrual cycle, which can lower your chances of getting pregnant. Exclusively breastfeeding can be an effective method of birth control, under certain circumstances. The lactational amenorrhea method (LAM) is a method of birth control that is based on the natural suppression of ovulation that occurs during breastfeeding. It has a rate of 98% effectiveness, but only when followed correctly. In order to be effective, certain criteria must be met, including exclusive breastfeeding (meaning that the baby receives no other food or drink, including formula), frequent nursing (at least every four hours during the day and every six hours at night), the baby is less than six months old, and the baby doesn't use a pacifier.
What if I’m exclusively pumping?
Exclusive pumping of breast milk is different from breastfeeding or chestfeeding because the baby is not nursing directly from the breast. While pumping exclusively can be a good feeding option for some parents, it is not the same as breastfeeding and does not provide the same level of protection against pregnancy as breastfeeding does. Therefore, the LAM method would not be effective for those who are exclusively pumping breast milk.
Can I use birth control after giving birth?
If you want to avoid getting pregnant right away, it's important to use a reliable form of contraception when you have sex, even if you're not having periods. Some can be used right away and some you shouldn’t start until later, one reason being they could affect your milk supply. There are many different options available, including hormonal and non-hormonal options, so it's worth discussing with your healthcare provider to find the one that's right for you and your lifestyle.
When can I try to become pregnant?
If you want to get pregnant again soon after giving birth, it’s generally recommended to wait a minimum of three months before trying to conceive. This gives your body some time to recover from the physical demands of pregnancy and childbirth. Your fertility will likely be different in the postpartum period compared to before you were pregnant. Ultimately, the decision about when to try for a second pregnancy is a personal one that depends on your individual circumstances and goals. It's important to take the time to consider what's best for you and your family, and to talk with your healthcare provider.
So, is it possible to get pregnant right after giving birth? The short answer is yes, it's possible, so take care to avoid an unintentional pregnancy by planning ahead and using a reliable birth control method once you resume having sex. Having a baby is a life-changing experience, and it's natural to have a lot of questions about your body and fertility during this time. Congratulations again on your new baby!