A person holding their newborn baby and wondering 'how long should you wait to get pregnant again?'

Birth spacing: How long should you wait after having a baby before trying for your next?

If you’ve recently had a baby, getting pregnant again might be the last thing on your mind. You’re likely plenty busy with your little one, and those pregnancy and postpartum aches and pains are in recent memory. Then again, you might already be thinking about adding to your growing family. Once you have such a beautiful little one in your life, it’s not uncommon to feel bit by the baby bug and ready to have another child very soon. Here’s what you should know about the timing of another pregnancy.

When can you get pregnant again after having a baby?

When pregnant, you don’t experience your menstrual cycle or ovulation, though this is not a permanent end. In the six or so weeks following delivery, the average mom’s hormones will balance out to their pre-pregnancy levels, and the menstrual cycle will begin once more. This means that you’ll ovulate, and can get pregnant, as soon as your first cycle after giving birth.  Sometimes breastfeeding can keep your period at bay for several months postpartum, but you could still get pregnant during this time. So, really, despite all these changes postpartum, at the end of the day, it’s still best to use birth control if you don’t want to get pregnant.

So, just how long should you wait?

For many new moms, the idea of getting immediately pregnant again, or even having sex at all, is completely out of the question. However, some women are able to keep their bodies in strong enough shape to quickly recuperate from delivery and want to start trying early. Although you may be fertile just a few weeks after delivery, getting pregnant right away could mean that the enormous amount of stress recently placed upon your body could lead to problems for both you and your baby.

When it comes to the formal recommendations for birth spacing, The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women’s Health both suggest that it’s best to wait at least 12 months after birth before getting pregnant again; March of Dimes suggests that it’s best to wait at least 18 months after birth before getting pregnant again; and the World Health Organization suggests that it’s best to wait at least 24 months after birth before getting pregnant again. These recommendations are because having too little time between pregnancies increases the risk of the baby being more prematurely, and the shorter the time between pregnancies, the higher that risk. Many new pregnancies that occur before these timeframes do end in happy and healthy fashion, but your body does needs ample time to fully recover from your prior pregnancy before it can be ready to carry another pregnancy.

All family’s needs are different, and you’ll need to do what’s best for you. But if you don’t want to get pregnant again right after having a child, it’s definitely recommended that you use birth control. If you have any questions – about birth spacing recommendations and what might be best for you, or about what birth control might be a good fit for you – be sure to speak to yoru healthcare provider.

Read more
  • Amanda Wendt, Cassandra M. Gibbs, Stacey Peters, and Carol J. Hogueb. “Impact of Increasing Inter-pregnancy Interval on Maternal and Infant Health.” Paediatric and Perinatal Epidemiology. 26(0 1): 239-258. 7/12/2015. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4562277/.
  • “Getting Pregnant Again.” Office on Women’s Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, June 6 2018. Retrieved April 1 2019. https://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/childbirth-and-beyond/getting-pregnant-again.
  • “How long should you wait before getting pregnant again?” March of Dimes. March of Dimes, July 2017. Retrieved April 1 2019. https://www.marchofdimes.org/pregnancy/how-long-should-you-wait-before-getting-pregnant-again.aspx.
  • “HTSP 101: Everything You Want to Know About Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy.” USAID. World Health Organization. https://www.who.int/pmnch/topics/maternal/htsp101.pdf.
  • “The Postpartum Period.” The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. Retrieved April 1 2019. https://www.acog.org/-/media/For-Patients/YPC-The-Postpartum-Period.pdf?dmc=1&ts=20181011T0151309694

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