Do you have baby fever … again? You’re still getting the hang of late-night feedings and swaddling, but you and your partner are anxious to add another to the crew. Oh, how quickly we forget about those 36 hours of hard labor.
If you want multiple children, you may wonder what the “proper spacing” should be and how soon you can safely start trying again. And for some older couples, the proverbial clock is ticking louder than ever to get started.
Pregnancy spacing is an important part of family planning, but there are some factors that you’ll need to consider before you give it a go. We spoke with Heather Reed, MD, an OBGYN at Banner – University Medicine North in Tucson, AZ, on what you need to know so your next pregnancy is healthy and happy.
How soon can we try and get pregnant after having a baby?
For the health of mom and the baby, research recommends waiting at least 18 to 24 months but less than five years between pregnancies. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises waiting for at least six months or more but cautions against the risks of pregnancy before 18 months after your baby is born.”
“Recent research has shown that the risks that were originally thought to accompany short intervals between pregnancies, preterm delivery, low birth weight and admissions to the NICU, may not be because of the short interval, but may be due to other things,” Dr. Reed said. “That being said, it’s advisable to try to avoid pregnancy within six months of a live birth.”
How soon can you try and get pregnant after a miscarriage?
If you’ve experienced a miscarriage, you may also wonder about the best time to start trying again. Dr. Reed said when you’ll be able to start can vary.
“There are some studies that show no concerns for mom or the next pregnancy if your pregnancy is less than six months after a miscarriage,” she said. “In fact, many women will try for pregnancy immediately after a miscarriage without any concerns.”
However, if you have a health condition that may have played a role in a miscarriage, you should get that condition better under control before trying again.
“Talking to your doctor before trying for your next pregnancy is important,” Dr. Reed said. “Your doctor can make sure that your chronic health conditions are well managed, address any complications you had in your last pregnancy and make a plan to reduce your risks in your next pregnancy.”
What can happen if I don’t wait long enough between pregnancies?
If you don’t wait for your body to recover before getting pregnant, you can increase your risk (and your baby’s risk) for all types of complications during your next pregnancy, including:
Premature/pre-term birth: This means your baby is born too soon, less than 37 weeks of pregnancy. Premature babies are more likely to have health problems and have a stay in the NICU than babies born after 37 weeks.
Low birthweight: This is when your baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces.
Uterine rupture: Women who have a vaginal birth after a previous cesarean delivery are at greater risk if they are not completely healed.
Other reasons to wait: Postpartum depression
“One of the things that people can forget about when planning their next pregnancy is their mental health,” Dr. Reed said. “Depression is very common after a pregnancy.”
If not treated, depression in pregnancy can lead to low birth weight and preterm delivery.
Depression after a miscarriage can be overlooked as well. “A miscarriage is a loss and grieving that loss is very appropriate,” Dr. Reed said. “Support groups exist to help women with depression from reproductive episodes.”
There’s no “perfect time” to have your next baby. Even with best made plans, things won’t always go your way. However, waiting and giving your body time to heal and recover after a birth or miscarriage is advisable.
Unsure what to do or have questions?
If you have questions about timing after a recent birth or miscarriage, don’t hesitate to speak with your health care provider or reach out to one of our Banner Health obstetrics and gynecology specialists. You can find a Banner Health specialist at bannerhealth.com.