My family has just grown. A month ago a new little cute and funny member has arrived! We wanted kids to be close in age, but were concerned about when to have second baby after c-section.
The second baby turned out to be a second back-to-back c-section for me, exactly 20 months apart after the birth of my first. C-section was not necessarily by choice as things didn’t exactly go according to plan during labor. At the same time everything worked out well. There were no real complications and the baby was doing great from the start!
I cant say I followed best guidelines for when to have second baby after c-section. But now I know much more about the matter than before. With some planning you can have way higher odds of getting a smooth second birth experience after your first one being a c-section.
So how long to wait before next baby after a c-section?
In general Ideal recommended wait period between birth and next pregnancy is 18 to 23 months. However we all know many people who have siblings with smaller differences in age than that and all involved (kids and moms) doing just fine. Many couples want their kids to be under 2 years apart. So the guideline is good to have and exists for specific reasons. But it is not a rule!
First 6 month – a no-no following a c-section
One thing I would strongly recommend is not to get pregnant in the first 6 months following a c-section. Your uterus and muscle tissues are not together yet and the scar is too fresh. You don’t want to start stretching all that out again at this stage.
Regardless of having had the c-section or not there have been numerous studies showing higher risks of low birth weight or premature babies conceived six months or less after birth, compared to babies conceived 18 to 23 months later. This greatly depends on the state of your general health, age, etc. It’s good to be informed of the risks, Yet, I believe that nowadays the way medical risks are presented creates more fear that should be necessary.
6 – 12 months – acceptable for a repeat c-section
You are in a considerably safer zone now post your c-section. Since your conception is under 12 months after the c-section, doctors strongly recommend a repeat c-section.
As you get closer to 12 months, you start having more choices. For instance, my second baby was conceived 11.5 months after the first c-section and my doctor did try for a VBAC for me.
C-section again or a Vaginal Birth After C-section (VBAC)?
If your conception is under 12 months after the c-section, doctors will insist on a repeat c-section.
Recommended ideal period before conceiving the next baby after a c-section and having a VBAC is 18 to 23 months. However even if you get pregnant a little earlier you can still have a VBAC.
If you conceive 12 months or later, the doctor may be willing to help you out with “trying for a VBAC” (how my doctor referred to it). This depends on how low or high risk you are, your general health, etc.
Hospital makes a difference
Trying for a VBAC, when gap between c-section and next birth is under 2 years, also tends to depend on the size and level of the hospital. Is the hospital equipped to deal with the complications? In a smaller hospital with small NICU or none at all, the doctors will be less supportive of a VBAC.
Doctors nowadays are more inclined to support a VBAC if the space between the two births are 2 years or more.
There is a very low risk of having a Uterine Rapture. This risk decreases if the time between c-section and next conception is longer. So with pregnancy sooner than 18 months after your c-section, the risk is higher. However it is still pretty low. Many women get pregnant sooner and do very well. Having said that, if you conceive just a bit over 6 months after your c-section, the risk here may be too great to play around.
It’s important to be informed on the possible complications. However, I find that the way the risks are explained to pregnant women by the medical practitioners presents these risks too strong for what they are. The risk may be one in 10000, but the doctor will talk about every time you visit, and then every nurse will repeat the speech again to you. It instills increased amount of worry and fear into an already sensitive preggo. It gets women too much onto the doubtful road and away from the intuition.
Most women who have had a VBAC report a way faster recovery and higher energy levels just a few days after the delivery.
I am in my 6th week post the second c-section and still experiencing limited physical ability, having to restrict what I can lift (including my toddler that’s still very young). I cannot walk fast still and absolutely cannot yet jog or run. The recovery is definitely happening but it is not fast. If I had a choice, I would absolutely choose a VBAC.
I am not against c-sections in any way. They save lives and families! A successful c-section is a hundred times better than a problematic vaginal birth. What I am not a fan of is unnecessary c-sections that may be suggested stronger than they should be when not initiated by choice of a birthing mother.