The Postpartum Conundrum


confusedThe postpartum return to fertility can be a particularly confusing time for the NFP user.  Many statistics and general guidelines are given for the typical return to fertility timeline.  But as women we aren’t generalizations, we are unique individuals. I’m not implying that statistics aren’t important; they absolutely are.  But it’s important to take a close look at your unique situation to decide where you fit within the curve. This will help determine what you can most likely expect in those early weeks and will guide you through this time as an individual not a generalization.

One of the best things you can do during the postpartum time (or any fertility transition for that matter) is work closely with your instructor.  As SymptoPro instructors your initial class fee is the only fee you will ever pay us for instruction or support.  We are here for you at any point of your reproductive life and we look forward to helping you though these transitions as they arise. Please, Please, Please, don’t hesitate to contact us!  If I sound like I’m begging it’s because I am! So often women struggle and dwell in confusion because they don’t want to bother their instructor. Don’t struggle!  Talk to us!  We are here to help and we want to hear from you.

The ideal time to contact your instructor is prior to your baby’s birth.  We can let you know the basic guidelines for the early postpartum time and tell you when to contact us should plans change. (ex. planning to exclusively breastfeed but needing to give formula somewhere along the way) That being said most couples won’t resume sexual activity for several weeks postpartum so if you aren’t able to chat with us before the birth, it’s not necessarily going to change anything early on.

When we do initially talk the first thing we will discuss is how your baby is, or will be, fed and pacified.  We’ll work together to determine which category you and your little one fall into, ranging from exclusively formula feeding to intensively breastfeeding.  Then we’ll let you know what you are likely to see over the next few weeks and possibly months.  If anything changes or you start experiencing fertile characteristics or sensations we will begin to touch base regularly, closely guiding you through any confusion you may encounter.

Common Postpartum Charting May Include

Early Return to fertility: This is especially so in bottle fed babies though not exclusive to that category.

Extended Infertility with no or few fertile symptoms: This is most likely to occur in women who qualify for LAM or adhere to Ecological Breastfeeding Guidelines though again exceptions exist.

Basic Infertile Pattern (BIP): This is an infertile time when estrogen levels become suspended at a consistently unchanging level producing the exact same type and quantity of cervical fluid every day for an extended period of time.  Your instructor is trained in recognizing these patterns which, with proper protocol can be considered infertile.

Mucus Patches: Mucus sensations and tissue characteristics come and go though ovulation does not occur. These often ramp up, occurring more frequently near the initial postpartum ovulation which is confirmed by using the Sympto-Thermal Rule. Your instructor will tell you how best to handle these patches.

Breakthrough Bleeding: Any bleeding not preceded by ovulation.  All bleeding in the postpartum time (after the initial postpartum lochia) which is NOT preceded by a confirmed thermal shift should be treated as breakthrough bleeding and considered possibly fertile.

Any transition in fertility can be difficult but you need not do it alone.  Your instructor is trained to help you navigate this often ambiguous time as easily and effectively as possible, taking into account your unique circumstances.

If you have any questions about the postpartum time you’d like us to discuss, drop a note in the combox and we’ll do our best!


Kristin and her husband Kurt married in 2004 and are now living in Iowa raising their four beautiful children. She has been a Fertility Educator since 2007 and began instructing for SymptoPro in the fall of 2012. In her desire to bring support to women in all areas of the world she began the Living The Sacrament - Online NFP Community. She is also honored to be involved with The Guiding Star Project, as they take an innovative, holistic approach to women and family care. To view Kristin's full profile with contact information click HERE.