You may already know how far apart you want to space your kids. Sometimes your plan works out perfectly; other times the next pregnancy happens sooner or later than you hoped. If you had a vaginal delivery with your previous child, the timing of the next one isn't such a big deal. But if your birth story ended in surgery and you want another baby, it's good to know how long you should wait to get pregnant after a C-section. Romper spoke with two OB-GYNs about the ideal pregnancy spacing after a cesarean and the answer, and reasons why, are pretty important.
Just as there are risks with back-to-back pregnancies, you could experience negative effects from getting pregnant too soon after having a C-section. "The uterus needs adequate time to heal from surgery before it can carry another baby," states Dr. Adrienne D. Zertuche, an OB-GYN with Atlanta Women's Healthcare in Georgia. Over email, Zertuche also tells Romper:
"The majority of women should wait at least 18 months following the birth of their child before trying to get pregnant again. This 18 month interval is important regardless of whether a woman had a vaginal, vacuum, forceps, or cesarean delivery, but it is crucial for women who delivered by cesarean section."
Why is it so important to wait a year and a half to conceive after a C-section? Dr. Eva Martin, CEO & Founder of Elm Tree Medical Inc., explains that "OB-GYNs must make a cut through the uterus during a cesarean, so you want your body to have plenty of time for this scar to heal." She adds that "you also want to give your whole body time to recover and rebuild its nutrient stores."
Zertuche agrees, noting that "any woman that conceives too soon may increase her risk of a number of complications in the next pregnancy, including placental problems, birth defects, preterm delivery, a low birthweight infant, newborn illnesses, and a diagnosis of autism or schizophrenia in the child."
But what if you're an older first-time mom and don't have time on your side when it comes to conceiving a second child? Zertuche addresses those concerns by saying, "If you have struggled with infertility in the past, or if you are approaching or beyond the age of 35 years, you should meet with a physician to discuss the risks and benefits of trying again at 12 to 15 months."
Overall, 18 to 24 months is the ideal amount of time to wait to conceive after having a C-section. But if you can't wait that long or are already pregnant sooner than that, talk to your doctor about the steps you can take to ensure a healthy pregnancy.