How long should you wait before having another baby?

Before the Pill, women had their children closer together. But the advent of effective contraception meant it was possible to leave a bigger gap between getting pregnant.


This is a trend we’re now seeing in reverse, as women who have delayed motherhood to focus on their careers become aware of their biological clock ticking loudly and are keen to complete their families quickly. Stella McCartney has just had her third child in three years

In the UK, most mums leave two to three years between births. From a health viewpoint, this is ideal.

Studies of women who conceive a baby within six months of a previous birth are more at risk of complications. It’s thought to be due to your body not having time to recover from the demands of pregnancy. Equally, a gap of over five years between babies is linked with a low birth-weight baby.


Your health

It takes at least nine months to build up your nutritional status again after having a baby, as getting pregnant increases your need for a range of vitamins and folic acid.

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You also need to replenish your supply of calcium, iron and omega-3 essential fatty acids, especially DHA – a polyunsaturated omega-3, important for the development of your baby’s central nervous system. Many newborns are lacking in essential fatty acids unless their mother regularly eats oily fish, nuts and seeds or takes supplements – and research shows far higher levels in first babies than in those born afterwards.


Your fitness

Every woman is different, but it takes several months to recover from having a baby. You’ll gain around 1st 10lb in weight during each pregnancy, with only around 7lb of this related to the baby, so that leaves a bit of weight to shift. Hormone levels have to return to normal, softened ligaments have to tighten, and stretched muscles in your abdominal wall and pelvic floor need to regain their tone.


After a Caesarean

If you’ve had a Cesarean, it takes up to a year for your cut tissues to heal, and you should wait at least 12 months, and preferably 18, before trying to get pregnant again after this major operation.


Your family life

When babies are born close together, life can feel like a whirlwind of nappies, feeding and constant entertainment. But having babies in quick succession also means you are able to get your working life back on track sooner, if that’s important to you for financial or personal reasons.

On the down side, you have to meet the costs of extra childcare and further education within a short space of time, rather than spread out over a longer period.


Trying again

In an ideal world, it’s better to allow yourself some recovery time between pregnancies. Waiting at least 18 to 23 months before getting pregnant is ideal, as this gives your body time to recover. But every age gap has its pros and cons, and there is no right or wrong.

But, if you’re trying again try to remember:

* Ensure you eat a healthy diet.

* Take a multivitamin and mineral supplement designed for pregnancy.

* Consider taking an omega-3 fish oil supplement for pregnancy, plus evening primrose oil to help up your essential fatty acid intake.

* Do gentle exercises to strengthen your stomach and pelvic floor muscles.


* Prepare for pregnancy by taking folic acid supplements, avoiding alcohol and making sure you’re fit.