New Mom: How Long Do you Need to Wait to Conceive Again?

I had a baby 11 weeks ago and my partner and I are excited about having more children. I am exclusively breastfeeding and I've had one period since giving birth. Are there are any hard and fast rules about child spacing?

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Peg Plumbo CNM

Peg Plumbo has been a certified nurse-midwife (CNM) since 1976. She has assisted at over 1,000 births and currently teaches in the... Read more

From an obstetrical perspective, it would be ideal if couples could space pregnancies at intervals dictated by several factors.

  1. Are maternal iron stores replenished? This usually takes two years.
  2. Has the mother returned to her pre-pregnant weight and level of fitness? It takes about a year of effort to lose pregnancy weight and often another year to lose the 10 extra pounds that seem to want to hang in there.

    From a family systems perspective:

  3. Can the family accommodate another member -- emotionally and financially, from the marital-relationship perspective, current demands and family strains?

T. Berry Brazelton, the heir apparent to Dr. Spock, says that the farther apart the babies, the easier it is likely to be. If you have them close together, you need to be prepared to nurture two babies. Most likely, you will push the older one to grow up too fast and that is probably not fair to him or her. If you wait a few years, you can count on the older one to become more involved in caring for the baby which is good for the whole family. (My 15-year-old would love it if we had another!) Dr. Brazelton's book (or any of his books) is a great reference: "What Every Baby Knows" (1987) Ballantine Books.

At 11 weeks, it is unlikely that you have had a period since you are exclusively nursing your baby. It could have been a bit of uterine bleeding from the placental site. Lochia, the normal postpartum bleeding, can continue up to 16 weeks. It is generally pink and ebbs and flows with our activity level.

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