When Should I Have My Next Baby?
When Should I Have My Next Baby?
When to Have a Second Child
Imagine: you are at a party, celebrating the first birthday of your firstborn, loving the fact that he or she is so grown up already yet still so small and precious. A well-meaning friend or relative approaches and asks, "When are you going to have your second child?"
Do you know how to answer? Have you even thought about it yet? Is the thought of your next pregnancy making you nervous?
Deciding to have another child is a big decision for couples. Oftentimes, it is a decision based on preference of spacing, financial stability, and sometimes even room in the house. Other times, it depends on the mother's health or the ability for the couple to conceive. While many couples choose to let the next pregnancy happen in its own timing, others like the idea of planning before the next child is conceived.
Are you thinking about having the next baby? Do you think you're ready to be pregnant once again? Here are some things to consider about spacing pregnancies and spacing children.
Having Two Kids
Spacing of Children
How many years would you like to be between your children?
Note: While the information presented here is true for many, many women, there are some women who have successfully had healthy pregnancies one after another with very little time in between. It may be acceptable to some, but for many, spacing the pregnancies appropriately is preferred.
After you have your first baby, your doctor or midwife will advise you not to have intercourse for at least six weeks, and after that time they may recommend birth control. Why is that? They know that if you have intercourse too soon after birth, you can become pregnant once more when your body has not yet healed from the first baby. This is true for women who have both vaginal and c-section births, but especially for those who had c-section births since both the inner and outer scars need to heal properly.
Your body goes through major changes during pregnancy, both inside and out. Once a baby is born, the body takes its time getting back to its pre-pregnancy state and condition. The uterus needs to shrink once more to its original (or close to its original) size. The hormones flowing through your body to maintain the pregnancy need to regulate themselves. The muscles and joints that have loosened themselves need to return to normal. If a woman had a vaginal birth, the birth canal needs to heal from the trauma it experienced. If a woman had a c-section, the uterine scar needs to heal properly and the surrounding organs need to function in properly in the space once more.
If a pregnancy happens too soon after birth, none of the above can get back to normal, causing trouble for the pregnant woman. She may have even more discomfort than the first pregnancy, feel exhausted due to taking care of the first baby, have a weakened immune system, and be at risk for a preterm birth. Plus, if a baby is conceived less than six months after a birth, chances are he/she will arrive at a smaller size than average and have a low birth weight.
Another important consideration when spacing pregnancies is maternity leave for working moms. According to FMLA, the federal law concerning family and medical leave, a parent may take 12 weeks out of a 12 month calendar to care for a newborn baby. If there is not enough time between babies, a mother may be out of a job or find herself returning to work immediately after birth if she does not have enough vacation or sick leave accrued. Both scenarios can take a toll on the mother since she may need to forfeit financial means or experience exhaustion from working and having to care for two young children.
The recommended amount of time between pregnancies is at least one year. One year is long enough for everything to get back to normal and allow the mother's health to be restored.
Having a Second Baby
How Many Years Are Between Your Kids?
Spacing of children is a common topic among parents. There is often an article in the parenting magazines addressing the issue and giving parents advice about how many years there should be between their children.
Children born less than two years apart may be a challenge. Kids aren't fully out of the 'baby' stage until around age two or older when better sleeping patterns exist, potty training is accomplished, and speech is more developed. Having another baby before your firstborn is out of the baby stage is going to be like having two babies at once!
On the bright side, parents with two children under two will get through the baby stage much quicker and be able to keep and use the existing baby equipment. Also, since the siblings are so close in age, they'll always have someone to play with and keep them company.
On the other hand, having two kids four or more years apart can be difficult as well. Just when the parents have a preschooler who is well out of the baby stage, the next baby brings them right back into the sleepless nights, endless diaper changing, and crying fits. Along with that, baby equipment may need to be updated or replaced. A firstborn who is used to being the one and only might feel some resentment towards the new baby as well, especially when you're supposed to be watching their sporting event or musical performance but instead you need to focus your attention on a fussy baby.
This is not to say that it can't work. An older sibling can be a great help with the baby, giving you a hand when other adults are not around. An older sibling may also be protective of the new baby and pass along wisdom, feeling like such a pro when the baby tries to be like him or her.
Studies have shown that 2.5 years between children is ideal. One reason is because it gives the parents enough time to take care of and give attention to the first baby, and find a routine that works for all of them while not being so far from the baby stage. A recent study even found that children 2.5 years apart may do better in school. Think about it: as you're teaching your firstborn preschool concepts, your second born is right there, taking it all in.
For instance, my children are 2.5 years apart. When I teach my son about letters and numbers, his little sister is right next to us, repeating what we say. She's getting an early start to learning these concepts, and he has someone with which to practice. It's great to watch them interact this way and grow together!
Basically, it's up to you and your personal beliefs about spacing your children. If you think you and your body can handle two under two, go for it. If you'd rather wait a while longer, that's fine too. Just be prepared no matter what you decide!
Ideal Age Difference Between Children
Pros and Cons of Spacing Children 4+ Years
More time with firstborn
May have to buy new baby items (or store yours for long time)
Mom's body can get back in shape
Kids may not be close
Parents can get into a routine
Have to go through baby phases all over again
Firstborn can be in school when next baby is born
Juggle school/sports activities and baby
Longer time to practice raising a child
Older sibling may be jealous
Before the Next Baby
Spacing between your children is your personal decision, but there are a few things to consider before you have your next baby:
- Your health. Are you healthy enough for another baby? Has your body had enough time to repair itself from the last birth? Are you taking your prenatal vitamins, especially those with folic acid? Are you up to date on your vaccinations? Preparing your body now for a new pregnancy will help you have a healthy pregnancy. If you have any concerns about health conditions or previous pregnancies, it's important to speak with your doctor before you try to conceive. Also, it's time to reconsider your birth control. Wait for at least two regular cycles to occur after stopping birth control before trying to conceive.
- Agreement with your spouse and partner. Having another baby is something both you and your significant other should discuss so that you're both on the same page about it. Plus, it gives them the chance to get as healthy as possible to help take care of the new baby.
- Your financial status. There's no need to be rich, but will you be able to provide for the baby? Can you put aside some money now in savings to use during maternity leave if necessary? It's a terrible thing to think about, I know, but babies cost money, especially if you no longer have the baby equipment from your first child, plus all of the diapers, wipes, and possibly formula that you might need.
When to Have the Next Baby
Deciding when to have the next baby is a big decision, isn't it? You'll know when the time is right for you. Best of luck!