Many emotions can accompany a miscarriage: grief, anger, fear about recurrence. It may take time to process those emotions before a woman feels ready to try to conceive again. However, some women want to know, “How soon can we try for another baby?”
Traditionally, physicians have advised waiting three months before trying to get pregnant after miscarriage. Some organizations, such as the World Health Organization, recommend waiting up to six months. But new research shows that for women who are healthy and ready to try again, there appears to be no physical reason to wait that long. And importantly, trying to become pregnant within three months of a miscarriage doesn’t appear to increase the risk of subsequent pregnancy loss or complications.
Only a woman and her partner know how long they need to recover after a miscarriage. There is no “right” answer. When you are mentally ready to try to conceive again and your body has had time to recover, you shouldn’t have to wait any longer
What research says about pregnancy after miscarriage
Where did the advice to wait three months after miscarriage come from? Historically, one of the reasons we recommended it was because we wanted an accurate way to date a pregnancy. Before we had ultrasound, if you had a miscarriage and became pregnant before you had another period, we couldn’t quite tell how far along you might be. But if you waited three months and had one or two regular periods before becoming pregnant, we could calculate your due date more accurately. Now, ultrasound is readily available and we can accurately assess gestational age.
We also were concerned that the body needed time to recover from the pregnancy, as some studies had shown that short intervals between pregnancies were associated with complications like low birthweight babies and preterm delivery.
However, those studies were looking at the time between a full-term delivery and another pregnancy. A miscarriage doesn’t carry the same demand on the body that a full-term delivery does. For example, we don’t normally see the same sort of nutritional depletion or blood loss with a miscarriage as we would with a full-term delivery.
A January 2016 study followed women who had suffered a miscarriage to determine whether how long they waited to try to conceive again affected the pregnancy. The study found that women who tried to conceive within three months after losing a pregnancy were more likely to become pregnant (69 percent vs. 51 percent) and to have a live birth (53 percent vs. 36 percent) than women who waited longer than three months. They also found no increased risk of complications, such as preeclampsia, during pregnancy in women who waited less than three months.
These results absolutely don’t mean you need to rush into trying to conceive right after a miscarriage. Everyone is different. You may need more than three months to deal with the loss. However, for women who are motivated to try again, this study suggests there is no reason for us to tell them to wait.
When it may be safer to wait to conceive
Aside from emotional reasons, there are also a few physical circumstances in which it would make sense to put off trying to get pregnant again after a miscarriage. A few of these include:
- If you are on a medication that is risky during pregnancy, we may want to change your regimen or get you off that medication before you become pregnant again.
- If you are diabetic and the condition is poorly controlled, your risk of miscarriage is higher. We would want to work on improving your blood sugar levels so your body is in the optimal condition before you become pregnant.
- If you experienced high blood loss during the miscarriage, you may be anemic, and we would want your blood counts to return to normal.
Unfortunately, miscarriage is not uncommon. Ten percent of all clinically recognized pregnancies end in miscarriage. If you have a miscarriage, you may need time to heal emotionally. But when you’re ready to try to conceive again, know that your body likely is, too.