Many new mothers understandably wonder what the signs of ovulation after giving birth are so they feel in touch with their bodies and can be prepared to know when to try and conceive again if they wish.
The first months of motherhood and the bodily changes that come with it can look so different for each person, especially regarding the rhythms of fertility.
Today we’re discussing all things fertility after giving birth and gaining a deeper understanding of the physical and hormonal cues that can help new mothers identify the return of ovulation.
Whether you’re eager to bring a new addition to your family or simply curious about how your body works, keep reading to learn more about this significant phase of the postpartum stage.
When do you start ovulating after giving birth?
The timing of ovulation returns can vary between each woman after giving birth. Ovulation resuming largely depends on factors such as breastfeeding, individual hormones, and other factors that come into play during postpartum recovery.
Every woman’s body is unique, and individual factors can influence ovulation after giving birth. Some factors include the frequency and intensity of breastfeeding and the mother’s overall health and hormonal balance.
Your healthcare provider can also provide personalized guidance based on your circumstances and help you better understand your fertility patterns during the postpartum phase.
If you’re not breastfeeding
For women who are not breastfeeding, ovulation may occur as early as four to six weeks after delivery. The body will gradually transition back to its regular menstrual cycle after childbirth, and the first ovulation typically occurs about two weeks before menstruation begins.
If you’re breastfeeding
For women exclusively breastfeeding their babies, ovulation is more likely to be delayed due to the hormone prolactin responsible for milk production. Prolactin can inhibit the release of certain hormones necessary for ovulation, acting as a natural contraception.
However, it is imperative to note that breastfeeding is not a foolproof method of contraception since ovulation can still occur while breastfeeding and before the return of menstruation.
Is it possible to get pregnant when breastfeeding?
The short answer is yes; getting pregnant while breastfeeding is very possible.
While breastfeeding can have a suppressive effect on ovulation, it is not a foolproof method of contraception. The hormone prolactin, which is responsible for milk production, can delay the return of ovulation and menstruation. When this happens, it’s known as lactational amenorrhea.
Numerous factors can affect when ovulation occurs after you’ve given birth. The frequency and intensity of breastfeeding and the overall hormonal balance of the mother are two of the main ones. As breastfeeding patterns change over time, prolactin levels usually decrease, leading to the return of ovulation.
Some women may experience the recovery of their fertile windows relatively early, even when breastfeeding, while others may experience a more extended period of lactational amenorrhea.
If you don’t feel ready to conceive again, it’s a good idea to consider additional forms of contraception. Discussing contraceptive options with a healthcare provider can help you choose the most suitable method.
Learn more about birth control options after birth in our Postpartum Hormone Handbook.
Five primary signs of ovulation after giving birth
A woman’s body goes through hormonal changes as it recovers from childbirth and adjusts to the postpartum stage.
- Return of menstruation
- Changes in cervical fluid
- Discomfort in the lower abdomen
- Basal body temperature (BBT) increase
- Increased libido
Recognizing the signs of ovulation after giving birth can be helpful for those trying to conceive again, who want to abstain from pregnancy, or who simply want to understand their fertility patterns in this new phase of life.
1. Return of menstruation
The return of your menstrual cycle is often a sign that ovulation is occurring again, but that isn’t always true for everyone. Anovulatory cycles can occur, so it’s important to know the other signs of ovulation after birth.
It’s important to note that the timing of the first postpartum period can vary among women. Some women get their period back within six weeks, while others don’t for several months.
2. Changes in cervical fluid
Around ovulation, the consistency and appearance of cervical fluid change significantly. During ovulation, mucus will become apparent, slippery, and more stretchy, similar to the texture of egg whites.
If you notice that your cervical fluid has begun resembling this description, then there’s a good chance you’ve started ovulating again.
3. Discomfort in the lower abdomen
Some women experience mild pelvic pain or an ache on one side of the lower abdomen during ovulation. This sensation can serve as a sign that an egg has been released.
4. Basal body temperature (BBT) increases
Monitoring your basal body temperature is an excellent way to receive valuable insights into your ovulation patterns. After ovulation, there is a slight increase in your BBT, typically ranging from 0.5 to 1 degree Fahrenheit.
Consistently tracking your BBT immediately after waking up can help you pinpoint the timing of when you ovulate. Products like the Daysy Fertility Tracker or Natural Cycles can make tracking your BBT easier and even aggregate your data into a helpful chart.
5. Increased libido
Some women may have a noticeable increase in sexual desire around ovulation. This heightened libido is believed to be connected to the hormonal changes during the fertile window.
Remember that postpartum ovulation patterns can vary significantly among women, and the signs of ovulation that are experienced can differ. If you are actively trying to conceive or want to monitor when you’re fertile, keeping track of these signs can help you identify your ovulation window.
How to predict ovulation after giving birth
Knowing how to predict ovulation after you’ve given birth can be helpful for women who are trying to conceive or want to understand their fertility patterns better.
The return of regular menstrual cycles and monitoring how long they last is one of the most helpful ways to track ovulation. Changes in cervical fluid are also one of the most significant indicators that ovulation has resumed. The mucus should become clear, slippery, and stretchy as ovulation approaches.
Measuring your basal body temperature with a quality thermometer first thing in the morning is also one of the most reliable ways to predict ovulation. A slight rise in BBT indicates that ovulation has occurred.
Tracking BBT throughout several cycles can help identify ovulation patterns immensely. In addition to tracking your BBT, using ovulation predictor kits can provide great insight into whether you’re ovulating. These kits can detect the luteinizing hormone (LH) surge in urine, which precedes ovulation.
Some physical signs, such as mild pelvic pain, breast tenderness, and increased libido, can also help you recognize whether or not ovulation is occurring. Postpartum ovulation can be irregular and tricky to pinpoint, so it’s helpful to know what to look out for and to track multiple signs over time.
Navigating postpartum fertility by recognizing ovulation signs
Recognizing the different signs of ovulation after giving birth is a valuable skill for women navigating their postpartum fertility journey. Whether you aim to conceive again or want to understand your body’s rhythms better, paying attention to the key indicators we discussed today can help you accurately predict your fertile window.
Every woman’s body is unique, and postpartum ovulation patterns may vary. By being aware of your body’s signals and seeking guidance from your healthcare provider, you can gain beneficial insights into your postpartum fertility and have the power to make informed decisions regarding family planning.
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Founded by new mom and self-care author Carley Schweet, Hello Postpartum aims to help fill in the gaps in postpartum care and support. At Hello Postpartum, we aim to create an accessible community where everyone can access postpartum education, research-backed articles, and support tools.