A pregnant woman and her young child.
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Conception, the sequel: What you should know about getting pregnant the second time around

Whether you’ve been planning for more than one child since your own childhood or you’ve only just decided that your firstborn should have a sibling, the process of your second pregnancy is going to follow a different trajectory than your first, and those differences could easily start with conception.

What to know about getting pregnant again

There are many variables that factor into a parent trying to conceive for a second time. Here are some scenarios to consider.

The easy way

Some individuals who had a particularly difficult time conceiving their first child report having a much easier time becoming pregnant the second time around. This could be for multiple reasons, ranging from just a lack of stress about conception, as they already have conceived their first child, to the fact that pregnancy hormones can help with endometriosis, which can hurt fertility. And other times, it’s just plain luck.

The hard way

On the other hand, even if you had a relatively easy time conceiving the first time around, becoming pregnant with your second child could take more time. For one thing, this time you’re trying to conceive as a parent, and your schedule may be much more hectic than it was the first time around. You may be more stressed (which doesn’t help with fertility), you may have less time to relax, and you may have less time alone with a partner. You’re also a bit older than you were the last time you tried, which could have an effect on your fertility.

Secondary infertility – which is difficulty conceiving a second child – is actually fairly common, and rates of this have increased moderately between 1990 and 2010, according to a study in PLOS Medicine in 2012. Secondary infertility is treatable by fertility specialists, who recommend seeking help on a similar timeline as when trying to have a first child: a year if you’re under 35, or six months if you’re older than 35.

Back to basics

Just like the first time around, making sure your general health is strong is a great place to start in boosting your fertility. Sticking to a nutrient-rich diet that includes folate and omega-3s is also a good idea, as is getting a moderate amount of exercise.

And while it’s definitely not impossible to get pregnant while breastfeeding – and many people certainly have great success doing so – nursing when you’re trying to conceive can decrease fertility and could delay conception. So you should consult with your healthcare provider about the best time to get back in the babymaking game and what breastfeeding might mean for your fertility.

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