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Thinking about bringing another little one into this world? Now that you know what it’s like to have a child/children already, you might feel a little more prepared for additional babies. However, it is still important to plan each pregnancy before you get pregnant. Getting pregnant too soon after giving birth can be risky. Use a birth control method until you are sure you are ready to start trying again.
If you or your baby had complications during a previous pregnancy or delivery, it is especially important for you to take care of your health now and reduce the risk to you and your future babies.
Click on the headings below to find out some important things before getting pregnant again:
How long should you wait before getting pregnant again?
For most women, it’s best to wait at least 18 months before getting pregnant again. This gives your body enough time to hear between pregnancies. Also, giving yourself this time may help you feel less worried about your next pregnancy.
Not all women can wait this long because of their age or other reasons. Talk to your health care provider about what’s right for you.
Do you have a medical problem that might affect your next pregnancy?
Some medical conditions can cause problems during pregnancy. Get a preconception health checkup before you try to get pregnant again. Talk to your health care provider about:
- Your pregnancy history: Tell your provider about any problems that you’ve had in other pregnancies. There are many things that you and your provider can do to prevent more problems. Your provider may suggest that you meet with a genetic counselor. This person has special training about birth defects and other medical problems that run in families.
- Your family history: Tell your provider about any medical problems that run in your family. Some of these problems could affect a pregnancy.
- Health problems you have life diabetes or high blood pressure: These can cause problems for your and your baby during pregnancy. Ask your provider about treatments.
- Medicines you take: Your provider can tell you which medicines are safe to take during pregnancy. If you take medicines that aren’t safe, he/she may change you medicines that are safer for pregnancy. Tell him/her about any medication you take, including prescription medicine, over the counter medicine (OTC), things made from herbs and anything labeled a “nutritional supplement.”
What can you do before you get pregnant to help you have a healthy pregnancy?
- Eat smart. Choose healthy foods like whole-grain breads, cereal, rice and pasta; cheese and yogurt; low-fat meat and chicken; and lots of fruits and vegetables.
- Drink a lot of fluids such as low-fat milk, water and juice every day.
- Prepare meat, chicken and seafood properly. Make sure you follow directions when cooking them.
- Move more. Check with your health care provider to learn how much and which kinds of exercise are best for you.
- Don’t drink alcohol, smoke or use street drugs. These can harm a baby growing inside you. Stopping bad health habits can be very hard to do. But you will never have a better reason to quit! So try to stop. If you’re having trouble quitting, get help—and keep trying.
- Protect yourself from AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Only have sex with one person who doesn’t have any other sex partners or use a condom when having sex.
- Stay away from chemicals that can hurt an unborn baby. Examples of chemicals at home include: paint, paint thinner, insect and weed killers, and cat litter. Examples of chemicals at work include: lead that is used to make paint, cable or plastics; liquids with strong smells; and radiation from X-rays or other sources if you work in medicine, dentistry, mining, electronics or in a power plant.
- Take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms of folic acid every day. Folic acid is a special vitamin that can help prevent birth defects of the brain and spinal cord. The health problems caused by these defects can be severe and, in some cases, even fatal. It’s essential that you get all the folic acid you need every day.
Some content provided by the March of Dimes Foundation. The publication, "Are you ready for a baby?", can be found at www.marchofdimes.com/catalog or by calling 800-367-6630. This is item #09-2385-08.