Thinking about pregnancy after the death of your baby

KEY POINTS

  • When your baby dies, you may have mixed feelings about getting pregnant again. Take time to decide when you want to get pregnant again.

  • Your body needs time to recover between pregnancies. Talk to your provider about long how to wait before you try to get pregnant again.

  • Get a preconception checkup before you get pregnant to help make sure you’re healthy when you get pregnant.

  • If you decide to get pregnant again, be hopeful. Just because you’ve had a baby die doesn’t mean it will happen in your next pregnancy.

What if you have mixed feelings about getting pregnant again?

If your baby died during pregnancy or after birth, you may have mixed feelings about getting pregnant again. You may want to get pregnant again right way, or you may want to wait a while. Getting pregnant may make you feel like you’re moving on toward something good. But you may still feel sad and miss your baby. You may feel guilty and worry about forgetting the baby who died. You may feel scared that if you get pregnant again, the new baby may die, too. It’s OK to feel all of these ways.

Talk to your partner about your feelings. Your partner may feel differently than you do about getting pregnant again. Share your worries and concerns with each other. You and your partner are the only ones who can decide what’s right for you.

You may want to share your feelings with other people, including:

  • Your family
  • Your friends
  • Your health care provider
  • A counselor
  • Other parents whose baby has died. Visit shareyourstory.org, the March of Dimes online community where families who have lost a baby can talk to and comfort each other.

How long should you wait before trying to get pregnant again?

For most women, it’s best to wait at least 18 months (1½ years) from the end of one pregnancy before getting pregnant again (called interpregnancy interval or IPI). This gives your body enough time to recover before your next pregnancy. If you’re worried about your next pregnancy, giving yourself this time may help you feel more ready to get pregnant again.

Not all women can wait 18 months between pregnancies. Talk to your provider about how long to wait between pregnancies if:

  • You’re older than 35.
  • You’ve had a miscarriage or stillbirth. Miscarriage is when a baby dies in the womb before 20 weeks of pregnancy. Stillbirth is when a baby dies in the womb after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

What can you do before you get pregnant again to help you have a healthy pregnancy next time?

The best thing you can do to help you have a healthy pregnancy next time is to take good care of yourself. Here’s what you can do to help you get healthy before your next pregnancy:

  • Get a preconception checkup. This is a medical checkup you get before pregnancy to help make sure you’re healthy when you get pregnant.
  • Take a multivitamin every day with 400 micrograms of folic acid in it. Folic acid is a vitamin that every cell in your body needs for healthy growth and development. If you take it before pregnancy and during early pregnancy, it can help protect your baby from birth defects of the brain and spine called neural tube defects, birth defects of the mouth called cleft lip and palate and some heart defects.
  • Get to a healthy weight. Eat healthy foods and do something active every day. Talk to your provider about the right weight for you.
  • Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use harmful drugs. Talk to your provider if you need help to quit.

Do you have a medical condition that may affect your next pregnancy?

Some medical conditions can cause problems during pregnancy. At your preconception checkup, talk to your health care provider about:

  • Your pregnancy history. Tell your provider about what happened in your previous pregnancy. Your provider may be able to tell you why your last baby died and if it could happen again. There may be things you and your provider can do to help prevent problems that can affect your baby.
  • Your family health history. This is a record of any health conditions and treatments that you, your partner and everyone in your families have had. Some of these problems may affect your pregnancy. If certain conditions run in your families, your provider may suggest that you meet with a genetic counselor. This person has special training about birth defects and other medical conditions that run in families.
  • Health conditions you have, like depression, diabetes or high blood pressure. Depression is a medical condition in which strong feelings of sadness last for a long time and interfere with your daily life. Diabetes is when you have too much sugar (called blood sugar or glucose) in your blood. Too much blood sugar can damage organs in your body, including blood vessels, nerves, eyes and kidneys. High blood pressure (also called hypertension) is when the force of blood against the walls of your blood vessels is too high. Getting treatment for conditions like these before you get pregnant can help you have a healthier pregnancy.
  • Medicines you take. Your provider can tell you which medicines are safe to take during pregnancy. Tell her about any medicine you take, including prescription medicine, over-the-counter medicine, supplements and herbal products.

How can you manage the stress of trying to get pregnant again?

Stress is worry, strain or pressure that you feel in response to things that happen in your life. Trying to get pregnant again after a baby’s death may be really stressful for you. You may feel worried that your next baby will die, too. You may feel pressure to get pregnant again before you’re ready. You may be angry that you have to go through pregnancy again. Here are some things you can do to help manage stress you may feel about getting pregnant again:

  • Talk to your partner and to people who care about you. Tell them how you’re feeling about getting pregnant again.  
  • Try to be hopeful. Remind yourself that every pregnancy and baby are different. Just because you’ve had a baby die doesn’t mean it will happen in your next pregnancy.  
  • If you work, talk to your boss about how to reduce the stress at your job.
  • Talk to your provider or a counselor about ways you can reduce stress.
  • Go to your preconception checkup to make sure you’re healthy. Being healthy when you get pregnant can help you have a healthy pregnancy.
  • Eat healthy foods, drink lots of water and do something active every day. Try to get a full night’s sleep.
  • Don’t smoke, drink alcohol or use harmful drugs.

More information

Last reviewed: October, 2017