What's Your Plan? 

Did you know that about 50% of all pregnancies are unplanned? Whether you are planning a next pregnancy or think this pregnancy will be your last, this is for you.
Your little one will be here soon, and your days (and nights) are going to be pretty full. While we have your attention, we want to get you thinking about what you can do for your health and the health of any future babies you may be planning (or not planning) to have. Join us as we explore three family situations and common family planning questions that are a must-know before you get busy with parenting! 

Family Situation #1

Your family decides not to have another baby. . .or at least not to have another baby just yet.  You would like some advice about choosing a method of birth control you can use after you've given birth. 
Q: What type of birth control is safe (and effective) while breastfeeding?

A: Until you are ready to become pregnant again (which may be never for some), you will want to use a method of birth control that is right for you. 
People often ask whether breastfeeding can be a reliable method of birth control.  The short answer is yes; the Lactational Amenorrhea Method (or LAM) is effective for 98 of 100 women in the first six months after birth when:
  • Baby breastfeeds at least every four hours during the daytime and every six hours through the night
  • Baby does not have more than one or two mouthfuls per day of other fluids or solids
  • Mom has not had spotting or return of her menstrual period
After your baby is six months old, fertility can return at any time--even if all of the other LAM criteria is being met.  If LAM isn’t the right fit for you, there are other birth control options available that can be used with (or without) LAM and that fit with breastfeeding. Learn more from Sex & U and La Leche League International, and talk to your healthcare provider.

Family Situation #2

You aren’t planning to have another baby right now, but you know many pregnancies are unplanned.  Your healthcare provider recommended you take folic acid before becoming pregnant before, but you wonder if that step just gets missed when the pregnancy is a surprise.    
Q: What can women in their reproductive years do to support a healthy pregnancy-- even if it's unplanned? 

A: It is recommended that you take a daily multivitamin with 0.4 mg (400 mcg) of folic acid as long as you are in your childbearing years—whether planning a pregnancy or not.  The thing about folic acid is that it does the most to prevent neural tube defects in the first four weeks of a pregnancy-- often before a person even knows they are pregnant.  Taking folic acid ‘just in case’ helps to protect your unborn baby even if the pregnancy is a surprise.   After you give birth, continue taking your prenatal vitamin until you use up what you have or until you are done breastfeeding, whichever is longer.  After that, make the switch to a daily multivitamin with 0.4 mg of folic acid.  It is important to start taking a prenatal vitamin again in the future if you become pregnant.

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Do you plan to take a daily multivitamin with folic acid after this pregnancy?



Family Situation #3

Your family decides to start trying for another baby as soon as your period returns. For personal reasons, you are motivated to have your pregnancies close together but you aren’t sure if there are any medical recommendations about how long to wait between pregnancies.
Q: What IS the ‘best timing’ for a next pregnancy?

A: Waiting at least 18 months after you give birth before even trying to get pregnant again is ideal.  However, according to research, it is also best to get pregnant again no more than 5 years after giving birth.  These recommendations have everything to do with the time your body needs for physical recovery, as well as other health related outcomes--and nothing to do with whether you and your family are emotionally, mentally or financially ready to take care of another baby.  It is important to consider both the medical and personal factors when making a decision about if and when the best time is to try to become pregnant again.  For more information about your unique health situation and how it may affect a future pregnancy, talk to your healthcare provider.

These are just a few things to think about when it comes to having more babies (or not).  To learn what else you can do for your health and the health of any future children, check out Health Before Pregnancy: Is there a baby in your future? Whether you are planning to have another baby or planning to not have another baby, there is some planning to be done! 

Your child's developmental milestones:

Want more stage and age-specific information? Visit our website to read about your child’s development and get more activities and healthy living tips:

Learn more

  • Want to learn more about pregnancy? Public Health has a FREE Online Prenatal Program.
  • Planning to give birth at the Guelph General Hospital Family Birthing Unit?  Sign up for their tour and information session offered the third Wednesday evening of each month. 
  • Enjoying this monthly e-newsletter? Subscribe to Public Health's Let's Talk Parenting e-Newsletter to get reliable, local parenting information directly to your inbox.
  • Not sure how you will pay for dental care for your children? Public Health has free dental clinics for kids ages 0 to 17.
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