New Mamas: How Soon Can You Get Pregnant After Having a Baby?
For most women, getting pregnant after having a baby is probably the last thing on their minds. Mother Nature wouldn't do that to them, right? That's crazy talk! No one could actually get pregnant so soon after giving birth, right?
Um, well, wrong.
If you've ever wondered if it is possible to get pregnant just after having a baby, the answer is 100% yes. As a labor and delivery nurse, I took care of several patients who were in the hospital delivering their second babies–with their first babies only nine months old. To the day. I even asked one mom how she felt having two babies so close together. And she confided that she and her partner had actually planned her babies that close together because they wanted them to grow up as best friends. Hey, what works for one family may not work for the next. I remember being so impressed that she knew exactly what she wanted her family to look like.
But for other moms, having a baby nine months after giving birth may not be an ideal scenario. So here's what you need to know about getting pregnant after having a baby.
All right, let's lay it out all on the line here. Here's exactly how soon after giving birth that you can get pregnant: Immediately. It all depends on when your body decides to start ovulating again and that will be different for every woman.
So, yes, you really can get pregnant right after giving birth and it has definitely happened. A few women have even gotten pregnant while already pregnant, which just goes to show you how amazing the human body can be. But overall, you still a pretty low chance of getting pregnant after giving birth. In general, most women who are not breastfeeding will start ovulating six weeks after delivery.
Women who are breastfeeding will have their cycle return on a more delayed schedule, but that schedule varies widely. Ovulation is, in general, inhibited in a woman who is breastfeeding. But only if her baby nurses on a consistent schedule. One study found that even one missed feeding could cause fertility to return.
And again, it's important to realize that when you're breastfeeding, you will ovulate before you have your first period. This means that many women aren't aware that their fertility has returned yet. The typical signs of ovulation, like breast tenderness and increased discharge, may be masked as a result of breastfeeding, so it's definitely possible to miss that you have ovulated. And if you track your temperature or take hormonal birth control, it's entirely possible that you would miss all the signs completely. Also, sleep deprivation.
But that's just an average and even that study on postpartum fertility noted that a “small amount” of women will get their fertility back even sooner than six weeks, even with breastfeeding. There are some rumors that women have increased fertility after giving birth, thanks to their birth canal being open or something like that, but there is no real evidence to support that claim so far.
However, the moral of this story is that a woman's body can do pretty incredible things. And yup, that includes having the ability to get pregnant immediately after giving birth. So unless you are like my patient and want your babies to be nine months apart in age (and hey, if you do, more power to you!), you may want to think about your family planning strategy.
How far apart do you hope to have your children?