How do You Decide When to Have Another Baby?
Of course, the first baby is the most momentous decision but if you already have children and think you are ready for another baby, there are a few things to consider.
The personal decision about child spacing is influenced by many things including:
- Your own life experiences
- Family dynamics
- Your relationship with your partner
- Your finances and your fertility
Here are 10 Things to Consider if You are Deciding About Expanding Your Family:
- Birth has better outcomes when spaced. Both moms and babies do better when there is at least one to two years age gap after the delivery of one child until the conception of the next pregnancy. According to several studies, it is best to wait between 18 months to 23 months after the birth of your last child before conceiving again. A short pregnancy interval raises the risk for premature birth for all women, and increases risk for poor maternal outcomes.
- Wait until your body has healed. Your cervix takes time to heal well. Many times, a postpartum person needs to lose weight, pull their abdominal muscles together, and /or improve vaginal tone.
- Improve your health to improve pregnancy and birth outcomes. Starting a better diet, regular exercise and certain supplements can decrease your risk for high blood pressure, diabetes, thyroid issues and more.
- If you had IVF. If you required IVF for conception, you have some control over the timing of your next baby but keep in mind the lead time needed for IVF. Occasionally, a client will conceive spontaneously after IVF but a healthy space between children is recommended so even if you have never conceived spontaneously before. You should use some birth control at least until the baby is 1 year old.
- If you are breastfeeding. Conception is often delayed by breastfeeding but not always! Many women can say they have not had a period for years, going from pregnancy to breastfeeding to pregnancy. Remember, in ovulation, the egg comes before the menstrual period so conception CAN occur without having a period after giving birth. A certain number of people will not ovulate when breastfeeding. If you are 1 year postpartum and have not started cycling yet, you might not conceive when you are ready. Consider weaning the baby until you have a menstrual cycle again.
- If you are older. Women starting their families in their late 30’s may feel hurried to have their children asap. Remember that a pregnancy space of at least one year dramatically improves outcomes especially in older women (source).
- If your child has special needs. When coping with a special needs child, it is tempting to put all of your time and energy into that child and space children far apart. Consider the benefits all children enjoy from having a brother or sister.
- Once you are more physically fit. Of course, we all agree that improving your health improves your chances of getting pregnant but it is also a big benefit in labor, giving you the strength and endurance needed to deliver your baby. And being physically fit also comes in handy when you’re chasing a toddler around!
- Benefits of closer and further spacing. Some want to have their children close in age so they can jump right into “baby” life and not come up until they have had their whole family. For families who space their children 1-2 years apart, life will be a bit insane for a while but in the long term the kids grow up together and the family moves into the next phase of life all together. Others opt for a larger age gap so they have ample time to enjoy each baby. This allows the older child plenty of time with parents prior to having a sibling come along. Older kids also have an easier time understanding that they’ll be a big brother or sister soon. Ask some of your mom friends with first-hand experience about different spacing arrangements and sibling relationship dynamics.
- Talk to your provider. No matter when you decide to have your next baby, it’s a good idea to make some time to talk with your birth provider. They’ll be able to give you helpful advice and support you and your expanding family.
The decision to have another child is a big one. We hope that these considerations will help as you make your decision.