How long should you wait between babies?
That’s a real cute baby you have there. When are you going to have another?
More than a few parents have been asked that question or asked it of themselves. If you’re wondering if there’s such a thing as too soon, medically speaking, there is.
“There is definitely very secure evidence for a recommendation of 18 months between the birth of one child and the beginning of the next pregnancy,” said Tara Chute, MD, who practices obstetrics and gynecology at Cape Cod Hospital. “I would say that obstetricians support this and pediatricians support this.”
Waiting that long can be difficult for some patients, she said, particularly older moms who have a child and often want to have another child right away because they know their fertility is decreasing over time.
But, as all mothers know, pregnancy and childbirth are physically grueling and it takes time to fully recover, she said.
“There are many studies that show that from a medical standpoint you need time to improve physically between pregnancies. It takes time to restore the body’s resources, such as the iron and folic acid you lose during pregnancy and delivery. You need to wait until your body is fully prepared to carry another baby.”
If you had a Caesarean section or any complications, that’s further reason to give your body plenty of time, she said.
Need more reasons?
“Whether you’re looking at pre-term birth, preeclampsia or uterine rupture, these are all well documented that there is significant improvement in outcomes if you do wait between pregnancies,” she said.
There are also benefits to your first-born when you wait 18 months or longer before a second pregnancy.
“The ability to continue to breastfeed your child can be affected if you get pregnant again in a short interval,” she said.
One more upside to waiting even just a few more months is the extra time you’ll have to bond with your baby before the family grows.