A new baby in the family creates many changes. Not only does a mother need to adjust to nighttime feedings, a bombardment of laundry and the stress of caring for a tiny, helpless infant, she also has to tolerate the many changes her body undergoes after pregnancy. The absence of regular menstrual periods immediately after the birth of a child may offset some of the discomforts of leaking breasts and any lingering pregnancy weight. Knowing when you can become pregnant after delivering a baby can help minimize the risks of an unplanned pregnancy.
A Pause in Periods
Many women experience an absence of menstruation for a period of time after delivering a baby. Women that breastfeed may miss their periods for many months. This natural occurrence, known as lactational amenorrhea, delays the return of fertility after having a baby. According to Marquette University, this method, known as the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (LAM) of birth control is not an effective method of preventing pregnancy. This means that women who rely on breastfeeding to keep them from conceiving may end up pregnant before they start using a different method of birth control.
Resuming an Active Sex Life
If you recall your health classes from middle school, the most reliable method of birth control may be abstinence. The Mayo Clinic reports that many women notice a reduced sex drive after pregnancy and delivery. Due to exhaustion from caring for the new baby, as well as the emotional and psychological adjustments involved in becoming parents, many couples wait a while before resuming sex. The upside of this is the assurance that you won’t become pregnant while you are practicing abstinence. However, once you resume sex, you will need to practice birth control to avoid an unplanned pregnancy.
Return of Fertility
Marquette University states that a woman who provides her baby with just milk from breastfeeding seldom becomes fertile before six months. A menstrual period will indicate she is becoming fertile again. However, the possibility of ovulation occurring before the initial menstrual period means she may become pregnant before she knows she is fertile. The Mayo Clinic advises using a reliable method of birth control to minimize the possibility of pregnancy after childbirth.
Birth Control After Delivery
Like many new mothers, you may wish to delay hormonal methods of birth control while you are breastfeeding. If you are concerned that hormonal birth control methods may reach the baby through your breast milk, choose a different type of birth control until you stop breastfeeding. The Mayo Clinic advises using a barrier method to reduce your chances of pregnancy. Condoms, diaphragm and spermicidal creams can guard against pregnancy when used correctly. Discuss these methods with your doctor before you deliver your baby so you can begin using them after the birth.
Consult your health care practitioner if you think you may be pregnant. Even if you have not experienced a menstrual cycle since the delivery of your baby, you may be pregnant if you have had sexual intercourse. Your doctor can confirm or rule out pregnancy by conducting a test. If you are pregnant, he may want to discuss the health considerations of continuing nursing during pregnancy, as well as starting you on a regimen of prenatal care.