Her voice was very subdued over the phone, very unlike my friend Moyin, who would usually have burst in to whatever she wanted to say, with her customary good morning greeting regardless of the time of the day.
I knew something wasn’t right but I waited for her to tell me what it was that had taken the sunshine out of her voice. Even more quietly, she said, “Kemi, I have something to ask you? You see, I have been feeling very tired in the mornings, extra tired I mean and even nauseous. Do you think, I may be pregnant?”
“Moyin, you just can’t be pregnant! You just had a baby how many weeks ago? You are breastfeeding nau” was my automatic response, even when I know that breastfeeding is not a guaranteed birth control method. And the fact that she just had a baby did not mean she couldn’t get pregnant right after.
But that was the only clear thing that came to my mind at that moment. I knew Moyin just had a baby and was going through some challenging times, so another baby was just not on the cards. It just wasn’t.
And that was the prevailing thought in my head as we chatted. After that, I suggested that she take a home pregnancy test, just to be sure what we were dealing with. That was when she told me she had bought one but was too afraid to take the test, because of the outcome.
I encouraged her to take the test and waited with baited breath, until she called back minutes later with a negative result. Her voice was chirpier and the huge smile of relief on my face would have made you wonder if I was the one who had just been let off the hook of an unplanned pregnancy.
Right there and then, we discussed family planning and the fact that she still needed to take a blood test, just to confirm things, especially as she wasn’t menstruating yet and did not know when the witch would show up, at least to act as a final sign that she was in the all clear.
You see, many women have been in my friend’s shoes several times. Even I have been there. Both times being weeks after I have had the babies and everything happening to my body seems a sign that I was pregnant. It wasn’t a great experience at all. It’s one of those times you don’t know whether to curse your body or bless it for its fecundity.
Most women will worry and wonder when their fertility and menstrual cycle will return after they have given birth.
Child birth impacts greatly on the woman’s health especially during the pregnancy period. Most health professionals will usually recommend not going in for pregnancy immediately after giving birth, since a woman’s health may not have picked up to the pre-pregnancy stage and thus, it’s important to wait until full health is regained before trying for another pregnancy.
This is where it gets tricky. Women ought to know exactly when their periods come or the times they could be fertile. But do most women know? I like to think that the only reason most women don’t get pregnant after child birth is because most abstain from sex.
So, what are the chances of conceiving right after child birth?
Well, doctors have often advised that sexual activities not be resumed at least until six weeks postpartum, but that is honestly story for the gods. I have personally never kept to that rule and I have heard of a woman who started craving for sex less than seven days after child birth, and I doff my hat to her. She is in a class of her own.
However, the reality is a woman’s fertility can resume without her knowledge, days after childbirth. Yes, you read that correctly; DAYS. It is possible to have another baby as early as ten months after delivering (that’s a conception date only a month away from one childbirth), which says fertility after childbirth can, and often does, return quickly.
While most women may believe that they cannot get pregnant soon after they have given birth, the truth is that whether it’s a vaginal birth or even a C-section, the chances of conceiving are high few days after you have given birth. You may not realize when you have a period at that moment because ovulation may take place even before your period.
Incidentally, I have heard of the woman who got pregnant from a day-41 romp between the sheets with her husband. Totally unplanned but heartily welcomed, even though it meant more work, surprised stares and even comments, but it was a way to fast track things.
But she didn’t try it the next time, as she quickly opted for birth control after birthing her second child. It would have been overwhelming to have three children under the age of two in the same house. I can only just imagine how she would have coped.
In order not to show up pregnant for your postpartum check-up or even be wondering if you are pregnant already, here are some birth control methods you can get on after childbirth, to protect yourself, at least until Aunty Flow shows up and you can track your cycle.
Recommended contraceptives after childbirth include:
- Condoms and spermicides, especially for breastfeeding women or those who are concerned that taking hormonal contraceptives will cause a delay in getting pregnant.
- Birth control pills, though breastfeeding women have limited choices and the progesterone-only mini-pills are often recommended over other types. This type of pill must be taken at the same time every day, and is slightly less effective than other birth control pill types.
- Injectable contraceptives, such as Depo-Provera, may also be used in some cases.
Meanwhile, Moyin is confirmed not pregnant and she’s on a six-monthly depo provera injection for now, until she decides on a long term birth control method.
She will rest easy and so will I.
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