Postpartum: When is birth control needed?

How soon after giving birth can my wife get pregnant? Is it necessary to use contraceptives when we begin to make love?


Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

Women will generally not feel like having intercourse for two to six weeks after childbirth, but of course this is variable. When a woman again becomes fertile also depends upon many variables. If a woman is nursing exclusively -- with no supplementation -- and she is not having periods, fertility can be delayed for up to six months with high reliability. If supplementation or solid foods are offered, fertility may return. It depends upon the woman's fertility level prior to the pregnancy, the baby's patterns of nursing and whether or not periods have resumed. If a woman does not breastfeed, fertility can return as soon as two weeks after birth, but more commonly fertility returns between two and six weeks postpartum.

The "bottom line" is to use some sort of protection all of the time unless a pregnancy would be okay. Foam and condoms are best initially. If breastfeeding, wait until your milk supply is well established before using birth control pills.

I hope this helps.

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