The weeks following birth, called postpartum, can be exciting, stressful, and filled with questions. Deciding whether you wish to get pregnant again or not can be a complex conversation. No matter your future family plans, postpartum birth control should be an important part of that discussion.
Ovulation can happen within a few short weeks after giving birth. Once it does, you can get pregnant. Most women begin ovulating two weeks before their menstrual period. Breastfeeding may delay ovulation, but most women see it return within six months.
Birth spacing is the time between a live birth and becoming pregnant again. This time frame is also called an interpregnancy interval (IPI). Your body needs time to recover after giving birth. Becoming pregnant too quickly can increase the risk of certain health conditions for your baby, including preterm birth, low birth weight, or being small for gestational age. Premature birth may lead to an increased risk of long-term health conditions, including cerebral palsy, behavioral issues, neurological disorders, asthma, bronchopulmonary dysplasia, hearing or vision issues, and others.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) recommends waiting 18 months before becoming pregnant again after birth. However, talk to your doctor about what’s right for you. Women aged 35 or older, or women who have had a miscarriage or stillbirth, may want to consider a shorter time frame.
Women have many options for postpartum care birth control. Keep in mind that there are benefits, potential side effects, and risks of each method.
You may want to consider postpartum contraception options while you are still pregnant. Factors to think about are timing if you plan to breastfeed, and the method’s effectiveness. Talk to your health care provider about the method that may be right for you.