You’ve gone through one pregnancy, had a C-section, and now you’re ready for more – kids, that is. But you’ve just had major surgery and your newborn is crying to be fed. You can’t even remember the last time you showered.
You probably know that right now (immediately after a C-section) isn’t the best time to get pregnant again. Your body need some time to rest.
So, how long should you wait to get pregnant again?
Table of Contents
- When Can You Get Pregnant Again After a C-Section?
- Why Do You Have to Wait to Get Pregnant Again?
- Complications of Getting Pregnant Too Soon
- Should You Be Worried if You Get Pregnant Too Soon?
- What Happens to Your Body While You Recover From Birth and Pregnancy?
- Will You Be Able to Have a Vaginal Birth After a C-Section Birth?
When Can You Get Pregnant Again After a C-Section?
Doctors recommend waiting 18 to 23 months before getting pregnant again after a C-section. That’s about the same amount of time doctors tell moms to wait after they’ve given vaginal birth.
Moms who are eager to grow their family may want to try and get pregnant right away. That 18-23 months may seem like an eternity when you want another child. But it’s better to wait than to be sorry later on.
Why Do You Have to Wait to Get Pregnant Again?
What’s the big deal about getting pregnant right away?
If you’ve just had a C-section, your body is still healing from surgery, which is traumatic for the body. Even if you had given birth vaginally, your body would have still needed time to recover.
The body needs to replenish lost nutrients during pregnancy and the surgery. There’s also a possibility that you’re anemic because you transferred blood to your baby and the placenta during your pregnancy. You also lost some blood during childbirth (yes, this is true even though you had a C-section). In fact, women lost twice as much blood when they give birth via a C-section.
On top of all this, you also have to consider that your uterus needs time to heal. It’s stretched quite a bit during the pregnancy. Now, it needs time to heal and restore back to its normal shape. The healing process can take quite a while. After all, it took a while for your uterus to stretch out as your baby grew.
Studies show that women who get pregnant again too soon after a C-section – within six months – often have complications. The last thing you want is a complicated pregnancy or birth, especially if it could have been avoided.
One major risk is uterine rupture. If your uterus ruptures, you could not only your baby but your uterus, too.
There’s also the risk of low baby weight at birth.
If this is your first child, you might want to get adjusted to life as a parent before venturing into your next pregnancy.
Complications of Getting Pregnant Too Soon
Getting pregnant too soon after a C-section can lead to complications during the pregnancy or birth, including:
- Premature birth
- Uterine rupture
- Congenital disorders
- Low birth weight
- Placental abruption (the placenta completely or partially peels away from the inner wall of your uterus before labor)
Studies have shown that getting pregnant within two years of your last pregnancy may increase the risk of the baby having autism. The risk is even higher if pregnancies are spaced less than 12 months apart.
Other studies have shown that spacing pregnancies less than 18 months apart greatly increases your risk of premature birth. In this study, 53.3% of women who didn’t wait 18 months to get pregnant again gave birth before 39 weeks. Just 37.5% of women gave birth that early after waiting at least 18 months to get pregnant again.
Should You Be Worried if You Get Pregnant Too Soon?
What happens if you do get pregnant right away, either by accident or on purpose? Should you be worried?
Don’t panic, but don’t be complacent either. Keep a close eye on everything and stay in touch with your doctor, so that you can address potential issues as soon as they arise (if they do).
There’s no guarantee that your pregnancy will run smoothly, and getting pregnant earlier than recommended doesn’t mean that you’ll definitely have complications. This is true whether you’ve waited 18 months or just three to get pregnant again.
Many women who get pregnant in less than 18 months after having a C-section experience no complications and get through their pregnancies just fine. If you’re in your mid- to late-thirties, you may want to speed up the process, as it can be tough for older women to get pregnant with baby number two.
If you’re anxious to grow your family, talk to your healthcare provider and follow his or her recommendations. You may be given the green light to try again if you’re older, so you can increase your chances of a healthy, smooth pregnancy.
What Happens to Your Body While You Recover From Birth and Pregnancy?
Doctors say you need at least six weeks to recovery from pregnancy, and that’s just a rough estimate. Some women need a lot longer than this – and that’s okay.
While you’re recovering, you may experience some cramping as your uterus starts contracting back to its normal size and position. These cramps may feel a little like you’re getting your period.
If you’re breastfeeding, these cramps are less likely to be a sign of your period (it may take a while for Aunt Flow to return). But if you’re not breastfeeding, your period may return sooner, and these cramps may actually be your period returning.
Along with cramping, you may also experience acne, hair loss, night sweats and mood swings. Right now, your body’s hormones are all out of whack because they’re trying to rebalance after pregnancy.
You may also find yourself getting up to use the bathroom just as often as you did while you pregnant. And sometimes, you may not even feel the urge until it’s almost too late.
Stretching during delivery can temporarily damage the nerves of your bladder, which can make it a little harder to tell whether you have to go.
You’ll also experience bleeding, known as lochia, after delivery, and it will be heavier than your normal period.
As you can see, your body is going through a lot during those first six weeks (at minimum) after birth. Couple that with the stress of adjusting to life as a new parent, and you can see why doctors recommend waiting at least 18 months before having another child.
Will You Be Able to Have a Vaginal Birth After a C-Section Birth?
When you do get pregnant again, you’ll probably wonder whether you can have a vaginal birth. A vaginal birth after Cesarean (known as VBAC) is possible and even encouraged by many medical experts, but it may not be easy to get a doctor to agree.
For liability reasons, most doctors and hospitals will refuse to let women have a VBAC, but if you’re dead-set on it and you’re persistent, you’ll find someone willing to help. Many women successfully give birth naturally after having a previous C-section.
The thought of having another baby and expanding your family is exciting, but it’s important to make sure that you take the time to fully heal and recover before trying to conceive again. You want your baby to have the best start to life possible. That means giving your body the time it needs to repair and recover.