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ashley84 05-07-2012 08:53 PM

Are women REALLY more fertile their first few months postpartum?
I keep hearing this over and over again. I used to dismiss it as an old wives tale, but I'm starting to wonder.

I've read the FAM book (TCOYF) cover to cover. I'm fairly educated in all things pregnancy and fertility. It doesn't make any sense to me that women would be more fertile directly after childbirth. Exclusively breastfeeding mothers should go through a brief period of lactation induced amenorrhea, rending them temporarily infertile. Yet, when people say that women are more fertile postpartum, they also usually emphasize that this is even more so the case when the mother is breastfeeding. This doesn't scientifically make any sense to me. Yet, I know so many moms who conceived again in their first few months postpartum - even some that were exclusively breastfeeding!

Some women are inevitably going to get pregnant again immediately, breastfeeding or not. But are they more likely? Is there any science to back this up or is it really just an old wives tale?

abunchoflemons 05-07-2012 09:03 PM

Re: Are women REALLY more fertile their first few months postpartum?
I heard from my doc first few months no but then cycles & all better as b4 child. It took long time to get pregnant again. First time was effortless & just happened. Second was hard work to conceive.

Charrey 05-07-2012 09:06 PM

Re: Are women REALLY more fertile their first few months postpartum?
Very interesting question, subbing for more reasoning behind this!
I got pregnant again when DD was 5 months old and I was exclusively breastfeeding.

andyoly82 05-07-2012 09:42 PM

From what I understand it's not that they are "more fertile" per say, it's that it's easier to actually get pregnant because your body has just gone through this state and is more apt to again. Not all EBF women have the benefit of ovulation suppression so yes you should be careful. Problems conceiving run in my family due to severe endometriosis. (mom, grandma, 3 of my aunts and my sister) they all had problems conceiving #1 and it took years. With each one #2 was conceived within 6 months. Just for example.

annb 05-07-2012 09:53 PM

Re: Are women REALLY more fertile their first few months postpartum?
I have never heard that women are more fertile postpartum. And if you follow LAM and all the rules apply, you can be confident that you won't conceive within the first 6 months.

jacquelinemarie82 05-07-2012 10:03 PM

Re: Are women REALLY more fertile their first few months postpartum?
What I believe is the case is that women ASSUME that they CANNOT get pregnant while breastfeeding OR before their periods return. They are not realizing that they ovulate before the postpartum period returns so that is one time they could get pregnant before they realize it because they are waiting for periods to start and then looking for birth control. Some women only breastfeed a week or maybe a few weeks or months...they think because they breastfeed any length of time that they are okay. They don't know the "rules". Or maybe they are not exclusively breastfeeding.

Basically they are not educated and are so busy taking care of a little one that they are not super concerned with birth control. I think a lot of women get back on birth control AFTER they fully wean or AFTER a few months when they realize the work and cost of an infant and decide they don't want another anytime soon. But by then it could be too late. I have heard of a lot of women going in for birth control and at that time finding out they are pregnant.

L J 05-07-2012 10:18 PM

I was extremely fertile after my son was still born. I got AF back 5 weeks after I had him, and was pregnant on the second cycle. Miscarried that one, and pregnant again three weeks after the m/c bleeding stopped.

But, with my two living kids that breasted, no. AF came back at 9m with ds1, and dd is 8m and no AF. Can be fertile without ovulating.

AcrossTheUniverse 05-07-2012 10:45 PM

Re: Are women REALLY more fertile their first few months postpartum?
I am thinking it is true for women who do not EBF. I had a really hard time getting pregnant with DD1, but after her I have been pretty much able to get pregnant right away. I don't EBF because of medical issues and I usually have had to stop BFing altogether by 12 weeks. I have always gotten my PP AF back around 8-9 weeks and I get pregnant pretty quickly after that. DD1 was 4 months old when I got pregnant with DD2. (There is a larger gap between DD2 and DS1 because I got an IUD at my 6 week checkup.) DS1 was 7 months old when I got pregnant with DS2 and DS2 was 8 months old when I got pregnant with DS3.

Michelle_M 05-07-2012 11:27 PM

Re: Are women REALLY more fertile their first few months postpartum?
It depends on the woman. With DS1, my period returned 6 months postpartum. I was supplementing with formula a little bit, but my period came back when I started the Mini-Pill.

DS2 was exclusively breast fed until about 6 or 7 months. But my period didn't come back until he was about 16 or 17 months old, despite him eating solids and not nursing as much. He nursed for 22 months. I did not use any hormonal birth control.

With DS3, he was exclusively breast fed until he was 9 months old. He nursed for 24 months. My period came back when he was about 15 months old. I did not use any hormonal birth control

So obviously I wasn't fertile until the right before each postpartum period. But I have known women who have had their first postpartum period when they were 3 months postpartum. Some were EBFing and fell in that minority statistic, others were formula feeding so they didn't have lactation to suppress their ovulation or they were supplementing and didn't have enough lactation to suppress ovulation.

Here is what my midwife and lactation consultant have said..

That when Breastfeeding is exclusive, and the mother/child fall under the 4 rules of breast feeding, that EBFing is about 98% effective as birth control. There will always be some women who do not fall in this category, just as condoms and BCPs are not 100% effective for all women.

1. The baby is under 6 months old.
2. The baby is not getting ANY supplementation and is truly EBFed.
3. The baby gets ALL sucking needs met at the breast, even the non-eating comfort sucking, as opposed to getting a pacifier to meet this need (so no pacifiers).
4. Baby is not going more than 4 hours at night between feedings.

So.. as a general rule, when those 4 rules are met, breast feeding is a form of NFP. HOWEVER.. it's not 100%, just like you have BCP failures and condom failures (hello, that's me with this pregnancy, condom failure. Sex one time within my fertile window WITH a condom lol), there will be people who this method "fails" for.

For me, using EBF, I didn't use any "backup" birth control until my babies hit about 6 months old and it worked out just fine for me. But to be 100% safe, you'll want a barrier or a pill.

Hope this helps.

God bless!

paper_girl_76 05-08-2012 10:29 AM

Re: Are women REALLY more fertile their first few months postpartum?
IDK, I never got pg in the first few months pp, and we have never tried to prevent it...

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