When you already have a little one, the decision to do it all again and add another baby to your family is an extremely personal one—and every family’s ideal timing for expanding their family varies greatly. Some families want another baby as soon as possible after they give birth, while others can’t even imagine adding another member to their family until years have passed.
Here are some useful tips and considerations to keep in mind when you start thinking about trying for a second (or third…or fourth…) baby.
Is There a “Best Time” to Get Pregnant After Giving Birth?
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists advises against getting pregnant within 6 months of giving birth to your little one—and many providers say that waiting 18 months or so after delivering a baby is the “sweet spot” for you to get pregnant again. Why, you ask? For a few reasons...
Getting pregnant too soon after giving birth can increase the odds of premature birth (delivery prior to 37 weeks gestation), low birthweight (under 5.5 pounds), and small gestational age during pregnancy. Babies with these conditions could be at an increased risk for long-term health problems. There’s also a higher chance of placental abruption, where the placenta peels away from the wall of the uterus before delivery.
There are also a few reasons for the recommended that have to do with your own health, mama.
- For shorter interpregnancy intervals (the time between the end of one pregnancy and the start of the next), your body needs time to recover after childbirth. Allowing time for your body and hormone levels to return to normal, as well as building up its supply of nutrients (especially folate) is important.
- If you’re hoping to try to have a vaginal birth after a C-section (VBAC) for your next baby, it’s also useful to give it some time before getting pregnant again—longer interpregnancy intervals can increase your chances of a successful vaginal delivery.
- Interpregnancy intervals greater than five years could be associated with a greater chance of preeclampsia (a common pregnancy condition causing high blood pressure).
No matter when you decide to get pregnant with your next baby (and especially when you do), schedule some time to chat with your provider. They’ll be able to give you advice (medical and otherwise) and support you in your plans for you growing family. If you’re not ready to get pregnant just yet, your provider can also recommend birth control options to prevent your next pregnancy from happening earlier than you’d like. In fact, your provider will most likely discuss birth control options with you at your six week appointment after delivering your baby.
How Will I Know When I’m Ready for Another Baby?
Of course, aside from medical recommendations there are endless other factors at play when deciding if you are ready for another baby in the family. Here are a few other things veteran mamas have considered when planning for another little one.
- Age Gap: Some mamas find that having babies closer in age is helpful, since they’ll be more likely to share toys, will play well together, and will be in the “diaper stage” at the same time. Others find that it’s useful to have an older kid who can help with small tasks (like fetching a new pack of wipes when you’re elbow deep in a dirty diaper), and who might be heading to preschool to give you some one-on-one time with your newborn.
- Living Arrangements: The fact of the matter is, babies don’t take up much room when they arrive. But thinking about your current living situation and future plans as baby grows up can be useful for timing. For instance—Do you have a move on the horizon that would make having a newborn challenging? Will your older child still be using their crib? Will your kids have their own rooms or share a space?
- Cost: Of course, little ones come with a cost including diapers, wipes, childcare, etc. But since you already have a little one, you probably already have a lot of baby gear, toys and clothes to use as hand-me-downs.
- Your Mental Health: Sometimes mamas reach a point where they feel confident and ready to tackle the early newborn days again, while others just might not be in the same headspace just yet. Ask yourself, “Will a newborn (or even pregnancy) contribute to higher stress levels than I feel comfortable with at the moment? Or do I feel excited to do it all over again?”
- Your Instincts: A mother’s instinct is powerful—listen to yours. Does it feel like your family is incomplete? Does it feel like you and your partner are ready (and excited) another baby? The truth is that there’s not ever a perfect time to have a baby—so sometimes taking a leap of faith and going with your gut is the right way to go.
If you’ve already considered all of these factors and you’re still feeling unsure about whether it’s the right time to get pregnant again…go right to the source and ask a fellow mama who has been there, done that. Talk to friends or family that had their babies closer together, as well as those who waited a bit before getting pregnant again. Their insight is invaluable and might help you feel more confident about your decision.
We know it feels like there are a million things to think about when deciding if you’re ready for another little one. But when the timing feels right, and you’ve discussed your pregnancy plans with your provider to ensure the healthiest pregnancy (and baby) possible—then go for it! Feeling like you’ve completed your family is one of the best feelings a mama can have.