• How Long to Wait to Get Pregnant Again After Giving Birth: What the Latest Research Says

    Here's everything you need to know before you decide when to try to conceive your next baby.
    by Rachel Perez .
How Long to Wait to Get Pregnant Again After Giving Birth: What the Latest Research Says
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  • Despite the expenses and pretty much less and less time for anything non-kid or non-family related, parenthood is a rewarding and beautiful experience, and that fuels the desire to have another baby. The question remains, however, is when is it ideal to get pregnant again.

    It's a big decision, maybe more so for moms who take the leap of faith is fully knowing that she'd have to go through pregnancy and childbirth again. It's your body, after all, that will house and nurture the baby for nine months. You want to be fully prepared — physically, mentally, and emotionally—for pregnancy and birth all over again. And there are financial considerations to consider, even living situation.

    Ultimately, the decision lies with you, mom, and your husband or partner. To help you with your choice, here's what the latest research says about birth-spacing based on the mother's health. 

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    The case for waiting a year to get pregnant again

    A new wide-scope, long-term study published in the Journal of American Medical Association (JAMA) suggests that women who got pregnant in their 30s and 40s should wait at least a year to 18 months before conceiving again.

    While a mom's older age increases risks for pregnancy complications, all "closely spaced pregnancies have risks for women of all ages," the study's co-author Laura Schummers, a postdoctoral fellow at the University of British Columbia, said in a press release.

    The length of waiting is not just for the mom's health and safety but for the unborn baby's, too. In the study, women over 35 had the highest risks for health complications when they get pregnant again three, six or nine months later. The health risks for infants increased steadily in all closely timed pregnancies regardless of the mom's age. These risks include stillbirth, prematurity, low birth weight and even death within the first year of life.

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    WHO says wait at least two years before your next pregnancy

    The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends women trying to conceive to wait for two years after giving birth. Pregnancies less than 18 months apart have been associated with the same risks for the baby, as stated above. Pregnancies spaced six months apart or shorter ups the risk of maternal death.

    A health mom usually means a healthy child. Not getting pregnant so soon after giving birth not only provides time for a new mom's body to heal and recover, it also gives the mother time to focus on caring for her baby. That includes exclusively breastfeeding for the first six months up to two years and beyond.

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    Consider these factors when you decide to get pregnant again. 

    1. The uterus needs at least four to six weeks to heal.

    Not all moms may feel the pain or the post-birth contractions after birth, but those signal your body is healing. The scar in the uterus left by the detached placenta from pregnancy can get as big as a dinner plate. After childbirth, moms need to take it easy and rest and let that invisible wound to heal fully.

    A study that used MRI scans on women's pelvic area shows a woman's pelvic area barely recovers after six weeks of delivering a baby. Most women need more time to completely heal from the kind of trauma a complicated birth inflicts in a woman's pelvic area.

    2. It takes at least four to six months to master mom skills.

    According to another study, first-time moms take four months and 23 days to efficiently master mom skills, including deciphering baby's different cries, cleaning up diaper blowouts, or setting up car seats, strollers, and other baby gear. Another set of critical skills moms need to learn is how to keep it together under pressure, exhaustion, and frustration.

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    3. It takes a year to recover and adapt to motherhood physically.

    A study showed that a new mom needs at least one year to recover from childbirth and to give her time to change and adapt her lifestyle to having and caring for a baby. This also includes making preparations for childcare for when the mom goes back to work.

    A new mom may also need support and medical consultation for high levels of exhaustion, back pain, urinary incontinence, sexual problems, and perineal pain even six to seven months after giving birth. These post-birth life adjustments may also add to a new mom's mental stress.

    Speaking of mental stress, postpartum mental conditions, whether it's the blues, depression, anxiety, or other perinatal disorders, may also persist years after giving birth.

    Post-birth recovery is always a case-to-case basis, as every pregnancy is different. Yes, consider financial aspect and the family dynamics. But also prioritize your health first — you are the one carrying the baby in your womb. It's your life that's tied to your unborn baby's health.

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