Pregnancy After C-Section: How Long Should You Wait to Conceive?

Most doctors recommend you wait 18 to 24 months to conceive after a C-section. Find out why, and learn the risks of post-C-section pregnancies.

Rear View Cropped Shot Of Unrecognisable Woman Taking Pregnancy Test At Home
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While many people do not "plan" to have a cesarean section, or C-section, some do. The surgical procedure can be elective. It can also be done out of necessity. If baby is breech, for example, or other complications arise, many doctors opt to deliver via this method. But what does this mean for family planning? Does having a C-section impact your conception plans?

Here's everything you need to know about pregnancy after a C-section.

When Can I Get Pregnant After a C-Section?

While many doctors advise people to wait 18 to 24 months before trying conceive again, this is especially true if you've delivered by C-section. This time-out gives your body a chance to heal and recover from surgery.

"In considering when it is safe to conceive again, we look at the interpregnancy interval (IPI)," says Pamela Promecene, M.D., professor and obstetrician with McGovern Medical School at UTHealth/UT Physicians in Houston. "The IPI is the time from birth to the beginning of the following pregnancy. There is evidence to suggest that a short IPI, less than 18 months, has a higher risk of pregnancy complications in subsequent pregnancies."

That said, some people can and do conceive sooner. If you are hoping to expand your family and have recently had a C-section, you can (and should) speak with your doctor.

What Are the Risks of Getting Pregnant After a C-Section?

Research shows that getting pregnant less than six months after a C-section can increase your risk of complications, such as ruptured uterus or a low birth weight baby. If you'd like to try for a vaginal birth next time (VBAC), you have even more reason to consider holding off on getting pregnant, since studies have found that the rate of uterine rupture is higher during VBACs when it's been less than two years between deliveries. That said, many people who get pregnant again quickly have totally healthy pregnancies and babies. The choice is ultimately up to you and your doctor.

I'm Worried About My Fertility. Should I Wait to Conceive After a C-Section?

If you're older than 35, you may not want to wait another year to have another baby since fertility issues tend to rise with age. If you want to time your pregnancies close together because of your age, or for other reasons, talk to your doctor. If you had a healthy pregnancy, it may be quite safe for you to begin trying to conceive again sooner.

How Can I Talk to My Doctor?

You've had a C-section. You've waited several months—or years—and now you're ready to conceive. You're hoping to expand your family. So what should you do and say? What questions should you be asking your doctor?

It's important to know how your physician handles pregnancy after a C-section. Is VBAC a possibility? Will there be additional screenings and ultrasounds? Every OBGYN is different—and levels of comfort vary. You can also ask how long they recommend you wait, if you haven't already. They will be able to give you the most accurate information based on your age, health, and other risk factors.

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