One of the biggest factors you will need to consider, before trying to conceive again is the state of the mum’s health. SmartParents expert and consultant ob-gyn at Gleneagles Hospital, Dr Christopher Chong notes that pregnancy can be particularly traumatic on the body, so time is needed for it to heal properly. “My advice is for women to let their body rest for at least a year before trying to get pregnant again.”
The twelve months is important because it allows you to focus on breastfeeding your baby, which also acts as a great natural birth control. Plus, it gives your body time to heal from vaginal tears or your C-section scar.
Research has shown that a gap of less than 18 months between pregnancies is linked to an increased risk of preterm birth, babies with low birth weight or are small for their gestational age.
Incidentally, choosing to get pregnant too soon can also be bad for your foetus’s health, points out ob-gyn Dr Peter Chew. Research has shown that a gap of less than 18 months between pregnancies is linked to an increased risk of preterm birth, babies born with low birth weight or are small for their gestational age.
So how do you know if your body is ready for another baby? Here are typical signs according to Dr Chew and Dr Chong …
1) Your hormones are in order
Pregnancy hormones like oestrogen and progesterone will take some time to settle after your previous pregnancy and birth. These hormones are responsible for controlling your ovulation patterns, which are a critical aspect of fertility.
If you’ve recently completed breastfeeding or just gotten off the pill, Dr Chew advises you to wait two to three menstrual cycles before trying to get pregnant again. “The body’s hormonal system will be more stable, then. Hence, making conception easier for the couple,” he adds.
2) You’re at a healthy weight
Conception may be challenging if your Body Mass Index (BMI) isn’t in the healthy range and a BMI that’s too high or low can increase the chances of infertility, says Dr Chew. To calculate your BMI, divide your weight (in kg) by your height (in metres) twice.
You’re considered to be…
* Underweight if your BMI is below 18.5
* At an acceptable weight if your BMI is between 18.5 and 22.9
* Overweight if your BMI is between 23 and 27.4
* Obese if you’re 27.5 and above
Female patients who are underweight are more likely to have a lower sex drive and an increased risk of miscarriages, premature labour and low birthweight babies. Obese women are more likely to have Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, miscarriages, impaired foetal development and gestational diabetes.
So how does one maintain a healthy weight? Simple – keep to a sensible exercise routine and eat a balanced diet.
Mums who are above 40 are more likely to have high blood pressure and diabetes during their pregnancy.
3) You are free from any chronic health conditions
Existing health conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure and asthma can result in unnecessary pregnancy complications. If you have any of the abovementioned conditions, or suspect you might, speak with your doctor who’ll help you find ways to resolve or get your condition under control.
By the way, mums who are above 40 are more likely to have high blood pressure and diabetes during their pregnancy. If you’re an older mum, ensure you’re working with your doctor to take active steps to monitor and prevent these conditions.
So you’ve decided to try for a second baby…
Every pregnancy will be different, even if it’s happening to the same person, notes Dr Chong. You’re bound to experience certain things in your second pregnancy that you didn't in your first and vice versa. Here are a few things you should be aware of, according to Dr Chong and Dr Chew…
* Your abdominal tissues may have been overstretched during your first pregnancy causing you to feel as if “your womb is dropping” during your subsequent pregnancies. You may need to wear an abdominal belt to hold up the tummy or womb during your pregnancy.
* Because of the lax abdominal wall, you will start showing earlier in your second pregnancy as compared to your first and you’ll also feel foetal movements earlier.
* You’ll feel more fatigue as you have a toddler to look after now.
* You’ll experience more obvious and stronger Braxton-Hicks contractions.
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