In the medical literature, this is called “birth spacing” and there have been lots of studies that have looked at ideal timing between pregnancies.
- What is optimal time to wait between pregnancies? If you are <35 and healthy, the ideal time to wait before planning your next pregnancy is 18-24 months and less than five years. If you are over the age of 35, as fertility decreases at this age, the ideal interval may be closer to 12 months. Remember these numbers do not apply to a miscarriage. Most people with a first trimester loss are safe to start trying during the menstrual cycle following their loss. However, you should consult with your doctor as they would be aware of your medical and pregnancy history and would be able to help you plan accordingly.
- What are the risks of spacing a pregnancy closer than the recommended intervals? Studies have shown that pregnancy within 6 months of a live birth increases the risk of premature birth, placental abruption, low birth weight, anemia, and congenital disorders. Very closely spaced pregnancies often do not give mom enough time to recover from pregnancy and breastfeeding, as this can deplete your folate and iron stores, and which is why they are at higher risk of being anemic.
- What are the risks of waiting too long? Long intervals between pregnancies can affect fertility and can increase the chance of developing preeclampsia. Moms over the age of 35 have increased risks of preeclampsia, hypertension, diabetes, problems with the placenta and stillbirth. There is also a higher chance of having a baby with a chromosomal issue.
- What is different if I had a c-section? If you have had a c-section, waiting at least 6 months is preferred in order to allow the uterus to heal and decrease the chance of uterine rupture. Most physicians also require a minimum of 6-12 months between pregnancies if you are considering a vaginal birth after cesarean (VBAC).