How long should you wait before getting pregnant again?

3

April 16, 2019

Reviewed by Kimberly Langdon M.D.

There are a ton of factors that might go into this decision, including:

  • logistics (“let’s wait until the current crib occupant to moves to a toddler bed”)
  • emotional readiness (“I had a tough pregnancy/delivery/postpartum and just not feeling ready”)
  • your own experiences (“I’m close in age to my sister and we’re close and I want that for my kids”)

All of these considerations need to be taken into account, which means that the best time to get pregnant again might differ from person to person. However, medically speaking, there is a generally recommended time to wait between pregnancies. And that is between 18 months and 5 years (starting from when you gave birth last). Depending on the source and study, some recommendations are 18-24 months and some say 12-18 months, but 18 months tends to be the average recommendation on the near end.

What does that mean? It just means that it’s the optimal window from a medical complications standpoint. If you get pregnant before 18 months, the odds are still great that everything will be totally fine. But, there have been studies that indicate the risks are higher for negative outcomes like miscarriage, preterm birth, cesarean section, mental health disorders, etc. One study of over 120,000 women found that when the mother got pregnant within 12 months of the last birth, the risk was slightly higher for premature births, smaller babies, and the mother or baby dying. But remember that these risks are so small overall. In this study, for example, 95% of the participants had zero complications.

So the answer to the question of how long to wait is really going to depend on a lot of things. But if you’re thinking about it, consider the medical side of things as well.

Sources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/getting-pregnant/in-depth/family-planning/art-20044072

https://www.nhs.uk/news/pregnancy-and-child/women-should-leave-least-year-between-pregnancies/

Kimberly Langdon M.D. is a retired University-trained obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine and then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University Medical Center. Recently, she founded a medical device start-up company that focuses on non-drug treatment for common maladies.

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