When is the right time to try for a second baby? What’s the ideal gap between kids? We help you to figure this out with the following five questions you need to ask yourself when reaching this important decision.
The World Health Organization recommends a minimum of two-year intervals between the last live birth and the next pregnancy, which is a birth interval of 33 months. Studies have shown evidence of associations between short birth intervals and adverse maternal and child health outcomes. On the other end, longer intervals of more than 59 months between pregnancies have been associated with increased risks for the mother.
However, remember that these are associations and recommendations only. When you decide to plan for a second baby is purely a personal choice and dependent on a whole host of factors. Sometimes it’s a surprise, too!
Here are some of the big questions to ponder before planning your next pregnancy.
1. ‘Am I physically ready for another pregnancy?’
If you’re choosing to birth another baby (as opposed to adoption), you’ll need to consider if your body is ready for it. This question is best discussed with your obstetrician, GP, or fertility specialist. Getting the all-clear to conceive again is vital, particularly if you’ve experienced pregnancy losses, or you’ve previously been considered high risk for any reason.
2. ‘Why do I want another baby?’
You need to be very clear about your reasons for another baby, and also why your partner would like another baby as well. This is a good way to work out whether it’s for personal reasons or if it’s from external/societal pressure. Is it because you’d like a playmate for your firstborn? Is it because people keep asking you when you’re going to have another one? Is it because you’re worried you won’t get to have another if you leave it too long? There are no wrong or right answers; it will just help you to clarify the motivation behind the decision.
3. ‘Am I emotionally and mentally ready for another baby?’
If you experienced postpartum depression and/or anxiety with your first baby, you need to think how you would manage it if it occurred again. It’s a good idea anyway to have a support and treatment plan in place for a subsequent baby in case of any unforeseen emotional or mental health issues during pregnancy or postpartum. If you have suffered a pregnancy loss, it’s important that you treat past trauma before considering another pregnancy.
4. ‘How is my relationship with my partner?’
If you’re raising a family with a partner, ask yourself whether you feel like they’re on your team, and that you’ve both successfully worked together to make parenting decisions (most of the time). Obviously with a second baby, it will be even more challenging to find time to spend together as a couple, plus some additional sleep deprivation will be thrown into the mix. Can your relationship handle that pressure? Perhaps you might need to work on strengthening your relationship first to ensure you’re both on the same page when it comes to another baby.
5. ‘Am I financially prepared for another family member?’
Look at your finances and see how the expenses have changed since you brought your first baby into the world. Take into consideration the loss of income if you need to be on bed rest, or if it’s more financially viable to have you or your partner home for the foreseeable future than to put two children into childcare. Another factor to consider is whether you’ll need more space in the home, a bigger car, and any additional equipment for a second baby. Long-term you might also want to think about whether holidays will be a possibility, look at the costs of education for two, and additional living expenses.
You can be as pragmatic as you like when making this decision, but sometimes the heart wins. Having children is incredible, and no matter whether or when you have another child, the timing will be perfect. There are advantages and disadvantages to every age gap, and anyone you ask will have different stories to share.
The key is to be prepared as much as you can. Get healthy, eat well, exercise, seek medical advice, see a therapist, create a postpartum support plan, get a good support network in place, and have your finances professionally assessed.
There is no universal perfect time to grow your family, and only you will know when it’s the right time.
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