Navigating Your Fertility Postpartum

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The joyous moment you have been waiting nine long months has finally arrived.  You hold your newborn in your arms, so grateful for these first special moments.

Having a baby can be a wonderful and joyful but also stressful and overwhelming time in a woman’s life. 

Along with learning how to parent this new bundle of joy, you have to learn how to navigate your fertility postpartum.

The safest and healthiest option for you and your baby is to chart your fertility signs.  Fertility Awareness Systems are 99% effective and have no side effects. 

Here are a few basic things you should know about your fertility health postpartum.

  • The first 56 days are considered infertile if you are exclusively breastfeeding. 
  • Your fertility can return at any time after the first 56 days, regardless of if you are exclusively breastfeeding.
  • 1/3 of all women will ovulate prior to their first period.
  • Once your cycles return, they may be unusually long or short.  It may take up to 6 cycles for your body to return to a regular pattern.
  • Your cycles may not look like they did prior to pregnancy.  Each pregnancy is different.  You may see things in your fertility cycle that you have never seen before.  I have had different cycles after each of my births. 
  • Observing and charting your fertility signs is key to knowing when your fertility returns.

Here are some tips on how to chart your fertility postpartum:

  • Review your charting and System materials

If you were using a natural form of family planning prior to pregnancy, go back and review your System materials and gather your charting supplies in the first 6 weeks postpartum.

You are having to avoid intercourse at this time anyway, so it is a great time to brush up on your System’s instructions for charting your fertility.You can read while you are breastfeeding.

If you are new to charting your fertility, try and obtain the System materials prior to your baby’s birth or contact an Instructor soon after you give birth so you can begin to read through the materials and schedule an appointment.

  • Be patient with yourself

You just had a baby.  Your priority should be taking care of yourself and your baby. 

Rest is key to taking care of yourself.  I know that sounds funny since in the first year I know I did not get much rest.  There are a lot of sleepless nights.

Take one day at a time.  Try to slowly ease back into an observational routine during the end of those first 6 weeks. 

Strive to improve your observational routine each day.  You can do some simple things like having what you need easily accessible to you: such as pre-folded tissues in the bathroom if you are observing mucus or having your thermometer or other measuring device in a convenient location.

Keep your chart right by your bedside table.  Don’t forget a pen!  I am so guilty of not having a pen when I need to chart.

  • Have your husband be your accountability partner

When I am tired or in a hurry, it can be easy for me to become lazy with my observational routine.  I personally need my husband to help keep me accountable.

You can have your husband ask you each day about your observations.  I also recommend that you have your husband chart your fertility signs.

  • Keep the lines of communication open with your spouse

Postpartum charting can be challenging.  Sometimes there is need of extended periods of abstinence while a woman figures out her fertility signs.

During this time, it is important to communicate with your spouse.  It is important that both spouses feel they can express themselves.

This is a great time to practice SPICE and build intimacy.  The key is to keep the lines of communication open.

  • Seek help from your Practitioner

If you can’t seem to get a handle on your fertility chart or if you are seeing fertility signs that are causing you to look like you are fertile every day, seek help from your Practitioner.

Your Practitioner is there to guide you and assist you in navigating your fertility postpartum.  Your Practitioner can help you manage your chart so that you know when you are truly fertile and infertile.

If you do not have a Practitioner or it has been awhile, I highly recommend contacting a new one. 

Some Systems of natural family planning work better for others postpartum.  Figure out which System fits your personal needs best.

I have personally found the Creighton Model FertilityCare System to be a great fit for my postpartum fertility needs. 

By talking with a Practitioner and having your chart managed, your confidence in your fertility chart postpartum will increase.

Navigating your fertility postpartum can be challenging.  I hope some of my tips will help make this time a bit easier. 

Postpartum is a time of recovery for your body and a time to enjoy the precious moments of babyhood.  

If you are confident in your fertility charting, you have one less thing to worry about.   You can spend the time enjoying your baby.

If you are in need of help navigating your fertility postpartum, I would be happy to help you.