How soon after giving birth can you fall pregnant?

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"Falling pregnant sooner is associated with more risks..."
"Falling pregnant sooner is associated with more risks..."

After childbirth, new mothers may be in heaps of pain and discomfort, and they may experience low libido as a result of their fluctuating hormones.

However, the good news is that most women may begin to feel that their sex drive returns after six weeks, though this period is longer for some. 

Obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Kim Sonntag says that women who have had a vaginal delivery usually have to wait a while before being sexually active to give the area time to repair and heal.

"If the woman has no pain and is wanting to be sexually active, then it is suitable," explains Dr Sonntag. 

However, women who have had a caesarian section may feel ready for sexual activity a lot sooner and this, too, is normal, says Dr Sonntag. 

"There is no right or wrong time, it is whenever you feel ready," says Dr Sonntag. 

Still, there are plenty of factors that may influence conception shortly after giving birth, and even dangers to consider before deciding to have another child post-delivery.

Also see: Intimacy during and after pregnancy: This is what an ob-gyn says you should know

How long should I wait?

The World Health Organisation recommends that women wait at least 18 to 24 months post-delivery before conceiving again, but no longer than five years post-delivery. 

"Falling pregnant sooner is associated with more risks, including a higher risk of premature labour," explains Dr Sonntag.

"It is also advised to breastfeed an infant for one year. While breastfeeding in pregnancy is safe, it is associated with its own complications."

Specialist Gynaecologist Dr Lizle Oosthuizen says that breastfeeding can also inhibit ovulation if done often enough. 

"Breastfeeding, when done regularly throughout the day and night, usually results in the absence of a period," explains Dr Oosthuizen. 

"This is due to the hormone prolactin, which promotes breast milk production and generally inhibits ovulation. If you do not ovulate, you will not be able to conceive."

However, Dr Oosthuizen warns against misconceptions that breastfeeding occasionally affects fertility. 

"The danger with this is that some women still think they won't conceive if they breastfeed occasionally - only regular reliable feeding results in an impact on conception."


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