image001Having another child is usually the last thing on a woman’s mind immediately after giving birth. Yet those looking to expand their families in quick succession, the question “How soon can you get pregnant after giving birth?” may be a necessary one. It is also an important question if couples want to prevent an unexpected pregnancy. Read on to learn the answer to this question and what you should do to increase or decrease your chances of getting pregnant after giving birth.

How Soon Can You Get Pregnant After Giving Birth?

1. Know When You Ovulate after Childbirth

Most women experience an extended period of bleeding immediately after giving birth. The bleeding will get lighter and lighter, lasting about six weeks. It is extremely unlikely that a woman will become pregnant during this time, although it is not impossible. Most women will resume regular periods of ovulation and menstruation within eight to ten weeks.

2. The Role of Breastfeeding

Breast feeding can affect a woman’s cycle by delaying the return of her cycle (compared to women who do not breastfeed). Therefore, people often assume that if a woman is breastfeeding, she cannot become pregnant. This contraceptive method is only 98% effective and only works if the mother breastfeeds her child exclusively. If the baby starts eating solids or the breastfeeding intervals become longer, more means of birth control should be used.

However, this method is not 100% effective. Women can become pregnant while breastfeeding. Additionally, if a woman is nursing, becoming pregnant again can cause a depletion of her current milk supply and negatively affect her body’s functions. The World Health Organization recommends at least six months of exclusive breastfeed and up to the first year if possible. If a new mother becomes pregnant within six months of giving birth, it is recommended that she wean her baby off breast milk.

3. Resuming Sex after Giving Birth

Generally, women can resume sex after six weeks. This is assuming the woman is ready both physically and mentally. Although your body may be healed, a new mom may not be in the mood! It is ok. Once a woman is cleared for sex by her physician, she should ease back into the process gradually.

4. Recommended Time to Have Another Baby

Experts recommend waiting at least 18 to 23 months between pregnancies. This allows the newborn to receive all of the benefits of nursing while giving the woman’s body a chance to heal completely. This time period also allows time to concentrate solely on the newborn without having to worry about all of things that come along with being pregnant again.

5. Know the Risks of Having Another Baby too Soon

If a couple is planning to have pregnancies close together, it is important to understand the risks involved not only for the woman, but for also the next baby. Studies have shown that women who become pregnant within six months of giving birth have an increased risk for complications such as miscarriage.

6. If You Do Not Want Another Baby, Take Contraceptives

Despite the old wives’ tales, a woman can become pregnant at any time after giving birth. A couple that does not want to become pregnant again needs to discuss birth control options with their physician. There are a host of safe and effective options available even while the woman is nursing. Couples should educate themselves about the available choices to choose what is best for their family. If one of the couple feels pressured to have another child, physicians have information about support groups and other resources that may be available. Couples will ultimately make the decision about whether to become pregnant again or not, and the decision is an important one.

7. Key Needs for Mothers After Giving Birth

  • Immediately After Birth

Immediately after giving birth, the most important thing a couple can do is to take care of their newborn baby and themselves. A woman’s body needs time to heal, and a baby needs love and affection. This initial time should be spent resting and nourishing a mother’s body with lots of water and nutritious food. While in the hospital, doctors and nurses will take responsibility of care. When a family returns home, a good support system is ideal for care.

  • Postpartum Nutrition

Nutrition is especially important in the postpartum time frame. A woman needs to nourish her body so that it can heal itself and creating a good milk supply. A woman will only need approximately 300 extra calories per day to meet the added nutritional requirements of producing milk. The postpartum time period is not the time to focus on losing weight. A woman needs time to enjoy the moment and concentrate on her new baby.

  • Exercise and Fitness

Walking and lifting a new baby will be about all a woman can handle during the first several weeks. If a woman was exceptionally fit before and during pregnancy, she may be able to return to exercising sooner. Don’t push it though! Remember a woman’s body has just gone through a tremendous experience and needs time to heal. Additionally, if a woman had a C-section, the recovery period will be longer and activity will be more restricted. Most women who have a vaginal birth can return to exercise in four to six weeks.

How Should a Couple Prepare for Another Pregnancy?

The best way to prepare for a pregnancy immediately after giving birth is to make sure the woman’s body has had adequate time to heal and in the best shape possible. It is also important to make sure that the newborn isn’t being shortchanged by efforts to conceive. Additionally, a couple will want to consider their own health and mental well-being. Having a newborn is hard work! It takes extreme effort, and multiple babies may induce suffering from stress or depression. Couples should give their bodies and minds the necessary time to adjust before attempting to become pregnant again. As always, consulting with a physician is also important.