Wanda Steele, RNC
How common is it for a woman to get pregnant again only weeks after giving birth? And if you're nursing, is another pregnancy even possible? Obstetrical Nurse Wanda F Steele has some information.Your question
How common is it to get pregnant again only 6 weeks after the birth of another child, even when breastfeeding? - Melissa, New Orleans, Louisiana
The expert answers
It is true that ovulation and menstruation often do not occur while nursing, and the risk of pregnancy is decreased when compared to someone who is not breastfeeding -- BUT, breastfeeding should not be considered a good form of birth control. Ovulation can occur after a pregnancy BEFORE you menstruate. Without protective measures, you could become pregnant, even if you are breastfeeding. So, if you decide to breastfeed and want to avoid another pregnancy, you will need to use some form of contraception for complete protection.
Barrier methods of birth control such as the diaphragm and condoms (with a spermicidal jelly or foam) are a good choice and do not affect breastfeeding. Use of an IUD has no adverse affect on breastfeeding. Periodic abstinence or natural family planning, can also be used by nursing mothers. With proper training they can learn to predict ovulation by changes in the cervical mucus and avoid sex during the most fertile times. Using oral contraceptives can also be effective while breastfeeding although there could be a slight reduction in the production of breast milk.
Talk with your caregiver about the different kinds of contraception available to you, together you can select a method that is best for you.