Due to the current pandemic, some women may be thinking about postponing having another baby for a later time. But for others, that’s not the case. There are many factors that play a role when deciding to have a baby.
One thing to keep in mind is that a healthy pregnancy begins long before conception. Let’s talk about how to make this pregnancy as safe and healthy as possible for you and your baby.
Preconception health is a woman’s health before she gets pregnant. Interconception health is a women’s health between pregnancies. If you already had a baby and you are planning to get pregnant again, you are in the interconception stage. Here are few things to keep in mind:
- Don’t smoke. It may be tempting to start smoking again after having a baby, but it’s better if stay away from cigarettes, vaping or any other tobacco product. Smoking can be very harmful to you and your future baby.
- Don’t put off important health check-ups. Even if you are busy tending to your baby, your health is always a priority. Being healthy before pregnancy can help you have a healthy baby.
When is it safe to get pregnant again?
For most women, it’s best to wait at least 18 months (1½ years) between giving birth and getting pregnant again. This much time gives your body time to fully recover from your last pregnancy before it’s ready for your next pregnancy. The time between giving birth and getting pregnant again is called birth spacing, pregnancy spacing and interpregnancy interval (also called IPI).
Too little time between pregnancies increases your baby’s risk of premature birth (before 37 weeks of pregnancy), low birthweight (when your baby is born weighing less than 5 pounds, 8 ounces) and being smaller than normal. Talk to your provider about birth control so you don’t get pregnant again too soon.
Do you need a preconception checkup even if you have had a baby before?
Yes. A preconception checkup is a medical checkup you get before pregnancy. It helps your health care provider make sure you’re healthy and that your body is ready for pregnancy. The checkup helps your provider treat and sometimes prevent health conditions that may affect your pregnancy. Get one even if you’ve already had a baby. Your health may have changed since you were last pregnant.
Talk to your provider about:
- Any conditions you had in a past pregnancy, such as gestational diabetes or preeclampsia.
- Getting treatment before pregnancy for chronic conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, lupus and phenylketonuria (PKU).
- Taking folic acid. Folic acid is a B vitamin that every cell in your body needs for healthy growth and development. Taking 400 mcg of folic acid every day before getting pregnant and during early pregnancy may help neural tube defects (NTDs). NTDs are birth defects of the brain, spine and spinal cord.
- Getting to a healthy weight. You’re more likely to have health problems during pregnancy if you’re overweight (weigh too much) or underweight (weigh too little). Talk to your provider about the right weight for you.
Taking steps now to improve your health can help you have a healthy pregnancy and baby. You may also want to take a look at our COVID-19 page to learn how to protect yourself and your future baby from this infection.