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How Soon After Giving Birth Are You Fertile?

How soon you are fertile after giving birth depends on a variety of factors.  For a woman who is not breastfeeding, it is technically possible to be fertile within just a couple of weeks after giving birth.  Generally speaking, however, it takes several months to become fertile again.  Even if you are not breastfeeding, the timing of the return to being fertile will vary greatly from one woman to the next, and it will also depend greatly on the nursing pattern of your infant.  In addition, your body’s sensitivity to the hormones that respond to lactation will determine whether you are going to become fertile sooner.

If you are breastfeeding, your chances of being fertile right away are greatly reduced.  There are three basic criteria that you can look at to determine how successful breastfeeding can be as a birth control technique.  If your baby is less than six months old, your menstrual periods are absent, and your baby is feeding only on breast milk and not taking other milk, foods, beverages or pacifiers, you are less than 2% likely to be fertile while breastfeeding.  This makes breastfeeding one of the most effective methods of birth control available, and it is completely natural!  Once any one of the three factors mentioned above changes, breastfeeding becomes less effective at preventing pregnancy.

There are some things that you can do to insure the maximum effectiveness of breastfeeding as birth control.  You should breastfeed around the clock.  You should use breastfeeding to help your baby be comforted.  You should avoid pacifiers and bottles.  You should breastfeed when lying down at naptime and at nighttime.

For most women, the menstrual period will take around 14 months to return to normal.  When a woman’s cycle returns before this, she will often still not be ovulating yet;  mom’s whose cycle returns after this have probably already started ovulating even without the return of their period.

Whether or not you are breastfeeding, it is important to be aware that you may become pregnant soon after giving birth.  To be certain that you will not become pregnant, it is recommended that you practice some form of birth control pretty much right away after giving birth.

  • mvd

    This is not accurate. There are very specific criteria under which the LAM method has been proven to work. It has nothing to do with pacifiers but rather the frequency of breastfeeding. Without following the method perfectly, a woman may as well not use any form of birth control at all. It is very irresponsible to post something advocating this method but failing to tell women exactly how to use it based on what has been proven by scientific research.


Last modified: February 10, 2013


The information provided here should not be considered medical advice. It is based on the average experience of women trying to conceive and may not be what you may be experiencing. It's not meant to be a replacement for any advice you may receive from your doctor. If you have any concerns about your cycle or our ability to get pregnant, we advise you to contact your doctor.