Getting Pregnant After C Section: How Long To Wait

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“How long after a C-section can you get pregnant?” is a common question many parents have when the doctor suggests C-section delivery. Pregnancy and having babies are wonderful times of life. Some women may like to plan their next child as soon as possible. However, you may wait longer than normal to get pregnant again after a C-section.

Pregnancy is possible anytime when your cycle returns in the postpartum period. However, the uterus may need a longer gap to heal well after an incision. Read on to know how soon you can plan your next pregnancy after a C-section delivery.

What Should Be The Time Gap Between Pregnancies After A C-Section?

After a C-section, it is good to wait from at least six months to one year. A technical report by the World Health Organization recommends that the mother should ideally have a gap of 24 months to “reduce the risk of adverse maternal, perinatal and infant outcomes” (1).

This recommendation holds good both for C-section and vaginal deliveries. It gives enough time for the wounds to heal.

Also, if you conceive in less than six months after a C-section, you might be at a higher risk of uterine rupture in the case of vaginal birth after C-section (VBAC) (2).

Moreover, spacing gives you time to bond with your baby and take care of them.

However, planning your next pregnancy is a personal decision, which you may want to take in discussion with your partner and doctor, based on your health.

Why Is Time Gap Required For Pregnancy After A C-section?

Your body takes a longer time to heal from a C-section than from a vaginal birth. Here is why you need a gap after the surgery:

  • Caesarean section is a major abdominal surgery and the recovery time varies from one woman to the other. The more the time you give for recovery, the fewer will be the chances of any complications during your next delivery.
  • If you have had complications in your earlier pregnancy, then you might want to wait before planning the next baby.
  • Your body loses a lot of nutrients while delivering through a C-section; therefore it needs time to replenish them. Your abdominal muscles lose some of their tone during a C- section. Therefore, enough time should be given for complete recovery.
  • Practically, it will be difficult for you take good care of yourself while also nurturing your infant.

You are also prone to certain health risks if you get pregnant immediately after a C-section.

What Are The Risks Associated With Getting Pregnant Soon After A C- Section?

Getting pregnant soon after a C-section can put you at an increased risk of:

  1. Placenta previa: In this condition, the placenta attaches itself to the lower uterine wall that covers the cervix completely or partially. It is associated with vaginal bleeding during or after delivery. A previous C-section could result in placenta previa in the subsequent pregnancy (3).
  1. Placental abruption: Placental abruption is associated with a low lying placenta or a complete detachment of the placenta from the womb, which can be a serious complication (4).
  1. Increased risk of uterine rupture: VBAC (vaginal birth after a C-section) can lead to uterine rupture, especially if the gap between two pregnancies is too less. Uterine rupture is the tearing of your previous C-section scar. Overweight women with a previous C-section have an increased risk of uterine rupture.
  1. Premature birth: A gap of less than six months can lead to premature birth. In such case, the deliveries usually occur before 36-37 weeks.
  1. Low birth weight: Women who become pregnant too soon after a C-section can deliver babies with low birth weight, i.e., under 2.5kg.

You might want to get pregnant quickly after your C-section as you might fear that a gap would weaken your chances of pregnancy. Read on to know what you can do about it.

How To Boost The Chances Of Getting Pregnant After A C-Section?

Here are a few things that will help you conceive naturally after having a C-section.

  1. Track your menstrual cycle to know about ovulation: After delivery, your body needs some time to get back to normal. The hormonal changes after pregnancy can alter your monthly cycle. Monitor your cycle closely every month to understand your most fertile period. Once you notice a definite pattern, the chances of conceiving increase.
  1. Do not neglect your lifestyle: Adopt a healthy lifestyle after your C-section. Have a healthy diet, exercise regularly, keep stress at bay, and avoid smoking and drinking alcohol. A healthy lifestyle elevates your mood and helps you get pregnant.
  1. Focus on your vitamin intake: Increase the intake of vitamins and vitamin supplements like folic acid. It is necessary to replenish your body with vitamins to regain your strength and health.
  2. Enjoy sex and relax: Do not have intercourse with an intention to have a baby. Enjoy the process, and relax after having sex. Lie down for about 15 minutes to enable the sperms to swim across the cervix.

Your chances of getting pregnant come down as you age. If you are in your late thirties or forties, you may not want to wait long for having your next baby. In such cases, you might begin your efforts as early as possible, after consulting your healthcare provider.

A C-section is a major surgery wherein your body loses a lot of blood. It takes time for your body to get back on track and restart the reproduction process. So, wait for some time and plan your next pregnancy only after you are physically and mentally ready to take the plunge again.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Is normal delivery possible after a c-section?

Vaginal birth is possible after a C-section provided you maintain a gap of about one year. However, it involves risks and might need an emergency C-section if you have a uterine rupture. Approximately one in 300 women can experience this rupture during VBAC labor (5).

2. Who are at the lower risk of complications in the case of VBAC?

Women who opt for VBAC are at a lower risk of complications if they:

  • are younger than 35 years of age (6).
  • had a low-transverse incision (a horizontal cut near the pubic hair line) during the first C-section (7).
  • had the previous C-section due to the baby’s health conditions such as abnormal fetal heart rate or a breach in position.
  • do not have any underlying health issues such as diabetes (gestational or pre-existing), blood pressure, or active genital herpes.

A cesarean or C-section delivery is a major surgery from which the body requires time to recover completely. This brings the question, how long after C-section can you get pregnant. Various factors such as maternal health, the reason for emergency C-section, pregnancy complications, and underlying chronic conditions such as diabetes determine the recovery time. Getting pregnant soon after a C-section may increase the chances of placental abnormalities, premature birth, and low birth weight. Therefore, experts often recommend spacing the subsequent pregnancy by a year or two after consulting a doctor who would decide after examining the mother’s health status. A gap is also advisable for proper bonding with the baby and their care.

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Dr. Surakshith Battina

(MD)
Dr Surakshith Battina is a reproductive medicine specialist, an endoscopic surgeon and a cosmetic gynecologist practicing at Indigo Womens Center, Chennai. He completed his MBBS from Sri Ramachandra University and his MD in Obstetrics and Gynecology from Annamalai University. After woking at Y.R.G. Care, Chennai for a year under Dr. Sunita Solomon, an icon in the treatment for HIV in... more

shreeja pillai

Shreeja holds a postgraduate degree in Chemistry and diploma in Drug Regulatory Affairs. Before joining MomJunction, she worked as a research analyst with a leading multinational pharmaceutical company. Her interest in the field of medical research has developed her passion for writing research-based articles. As a writer, she aims at providing informative articles on health and pharma, especially related to... more