Family Planning: How Long Should You Wait Between Having Babies?

I’ve always known I wanted at least two kids. Although, once my daughter was born, I found myself in the exhausting and overwhelming newborn phase. I couldn’t imagine going through the whole pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum recovery process all over again.

Even though that time period was incredibly challenging, in the back of my mind, I knew I’d definitely do it again. So when my daughter was only a few months old, I started to think about when exactly that would be. When would I physically feel ready to take on these huge tasks once again?

 

As many people promise, you do eventually forget the pain of childbirth, which makes you willing to do it again.

 

If I was being honest, it felt like I’d never feel ready. But as my daughter’s first birthday approached, I figured I felt as ready as I ever would. And as many people promise, you do eventually forget the pain of childbirth, which makes you willing to do it again. It’s hard to remember the pain of contractions… maybe they weren’t so bad after all.

When deciding on the age gap between babies, there are a lot of important factors to consider. One that shouldn’t be overlooked is the health and wellness of the mother. To get a better understanding of the ideal timing to wait between having babies, I spoke with Dr. Lauren Demosthenes, Senior Medical Director with Babyscripts. Read on to hear her advice when navigating your own family planning.

 

Source: @karissfarris

 

Is there an ideal amount of time to wait between having babies?

There is not an easy answer to this question. The ideal amount of time can vary from person to person. Dr. Demosthenes shared that it is well-established that short intervals between pregnancies can cause issues, like increased risk of premature birth, small babies, and birth defects. However, the definition of “short interval” isn’t well-defined.

 

Short intervals between pregnancies can cause issues … however, the definition of ‘short interval’ isn’t well-defined.

 

“Most experts will say that six months between birth and being pregnant again is the shortest interval of time that is recommended. But that mostly applies to women who are healthy.” Dr. Demosthenes said.

She also notes that some women prefer to have their kids close in age, or it’s common to compress the time interval having children at an older age. You have to make an educated decision based on your own personal situation and strive to be as healthy as possible in the process.

 

Should women who’ve had a cesarean birth wait longer to conceive again?

The type of birth you went through may impact your decision on timing. “It takes at least six months for the scar on your uterus to heal [from a C-section]. Many experts will recommend waiting at least 12 months to conceive again in order to decrease the chance of that scar separating during pregnancy or labor, otherwise known as a uterine rupture,” Dr. Demosthenes said.

 

If you’ve experienced a miscarriage, should you wait a certain amount of time to conceive again?

In the past, it was recommended to wait a couple of months, but this has changed. According to Dr. Demosthenes, once you recover from your miscarriage, you may begin trying again immediately, just make sure you continue with your good health practices as well.

 

When should you start thinking about spacing between babies?

As crazy as it may sound, Dr. Demosthenes recommended thinking about this while still pregnant with the current baby. While you’re probably thinking about a million other things, you should consider a plan for birth control, breastfeeding, and maximizing your health if you want to try to conceive again in a relatively short period of time.

 

Source: @luckyandi

 

How can I be as healthy as possible if considering pregnancies close together?

While some things are out of your control with conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and recovery, there are steps you can take to ensure you’re as healthy as possible.

You should strive to be at an ideal weight, and if you do have any health issues (like diabetes or high blood pressure), make sure those are controlled prior to getting pregnant again. Also, pregnancy and breastfeeding may deplete vitamins and nutrients, which is why there is some argument for waiting at least a year after birth prior to conceiving again. Waiting longer between babies gives your body the time it needs to be at optimal health and nutrition to prepare for another pregnancy.

If you’re looking for specific action items to be your healthiest, consider things like taking vitamins with folic acid and building up a good store of iron in your blood. Make sure you are up-to-date on vaccines, not smoking or using other substances, eating healthy, and maintaining your ideal body weight. Continue to take prenatal vitamins and ensure all medications you are taking are safe during pregnancy. If you have any complications during pregnancy, discuss those with your doctor soon after delivery to help make a suitable plan.

Mental health is also incredibly important. Make sure to know the signs of baby blues and postpartum depression. Taking care of your mental health is just as important as physical health.

 


 

While we can attempt to family plan, there are lots of elements out of our control. Developing and maintaining healthy habits between pregnancies can go a long way to ensure both you and your babies are as healthy as possible.

 

Read More: Family Planning During COVID-19: Should I Wait to Get Pregnant?