When a little one arrives, the excitement of nurturing the new baby may prompt parents to consider adding another bundle of joy. But before you get busy on No. 2, take some time to consider a few important matters. According to Dr. Angela Jones, a New Jersey-based obstetrician-gynecologist, women who become pregnant less than 18 months after giving birth may be at higher risk for health complications during the subsequent pregnancy. You and your partner also must weigh the financial implications and additional responsibilities of a quickly growing family.
Timing is everything when it comes to the well-being of both the mother and the subsequent pregnancy. Conceiving within 12 months of a birth is often associated with complications such as placental abruption — a complete or partial separation of the placenta from the uterine wall. Pregnancies that occur within 18 months of a birth may also result in low birth weight or prematurity. “Such associations may be due to the fact that when pregnancies are so close together, the body doesn’t have an opportunity to recover from the stress of the original pregnancy or replenish the essential nutrients that are required to sustain a healthy pregnancy,” Jones said.
Considering the Type of Delivery
If you delivered via C-section with your first child, it is best to wait at least 12 months before getting pregnant again, recommends Dr. Kecia Gaither, Director of Maternal Fetal Medicine at Brookdale University Hospital in Brooklyn, New York. “This allows for the uterus to adequately heal and avoid the scar opening during subsequent labor,” she said. You will need to discuss options with your physician to determine if you can deliver vaginally the second time around, or if you should opt for another C-section.
Considering the Balancing Act
In addition to the responsibilities of a growing family, parents should consider how to balance the demands of two young babies. “Having two babies within a year of each other is difficult for anyone to handle, especially first-time moms,” said Gaither. “It’s important to consider how far your body has come along in the healing process from your last delivery ..." Allowing adequate time to adjust to the rigors of motherhood, both emotionally and physically, is a smart strategy. Juggling one baby during meals, baths, naps and bedtime can be a challenge. Juggling two, however, can be frustrating and stressful, especially when both children are barely mobile and not yet able to adequately express themselves.
A new baby can change dynamics in ways that don't support the well-being of all family members. “While being a mom is already a huge responsibility, taking on the responsibility of adding a newborn to the equation without proper resources, support and consideration could potentially be a recipe for disaster,” said Jones. Babies are expensive, so be prepared for finances to take a hit. A growing family will also affect your relationship with your spouse. Unless you have a nanny, chances are the two of you will have much less "couple" time. And don't forget about the well-being of the baby you already have — the effects of having your attentions divided between two little ones may well serve to short-change the older baby in ways that could be detrimental.