Trying for another baby after neonatal loss
When should I start trying for a baby again?
When to start trying for another baby after a loss is a personal decision. What is right for one person might not be for another. If you have a partner, talk to them about when might be the right time for you both. You may have different opinions on this at the moment. Try talking to each other about how you feel, honestly and openly.
Just being intimate with each other can be hard after losing a baby. You may need time to take care of each other before trying to get pregnant again. Some couples may need extra support, such as professional counselling, either alone or together.
Waiting for answers about why your baby died
You may have decided to have a post-mortem examination after your baby died. Some post-mortems may show a cause of death or may help rule out what didn’t cause the death.
Some people decide to wait for these results before thinking about having another baby. You may have also had or need some tests to find out more about your health.
After any tests, you will have the opportunity to talk through the results with your specialist. This may help you make an informed decision about trying for another baby.
Being physically ready
This will be different for everyone. If you will be carrying the baby, it’s best to speak to your midwife or a doctor who specialises in women's health. They will be the best person to advise you on your situation.
Be aware that you may be able to get pregnant as little as 3 weeks after the birth of your baby, even if you were breastfeeding and your periods haven't started again yet.
If you’ve been using contraception, you can stop taking or have any kind of contraception taken out at any time you want and your normal fertility (ability to get pregnant) will go back to normal.
If you use the contraceptive injection, your fertility may not return for several months after your last injection has worn off. It can sometimes take up to a year for your periods and fertility to get back to normal.
If you had a caesarean section (c-section), it’s recommended that you wait a year before getting pregnant again. This is because recovering from a caesarean section usually takes longer than recovering from a vaginal birth, even if the birth was straightforward. Find out about pregnancy and giving birth after a caesarean section.
Of course, pregnancy isn’t always planned. Or you may want to get pregnant sooner for your own reasons, such as age. If you do decide to start trying again, there are lots of things you can do to get in the best possible health. Read more about planning a pregnancy.
Struggling to get pregnant again
If you and your partner have been trying to get pregnant for more than 1 year, you should both be offered tests. These may include a semen test for a male partner to measure the quantity and quality of the sperm and hormone tests for women.
You should be offered earlier referral for specialist advice and tests if:
- you are aged 36 years or over
- there is a known medical reason for your fertility problems, for example you have had cancer treatment that has affected your fertility
- you have a condition or problem that may have affected your fertility.
If you in a same sex relationship, and using artificial insemination to try and get pregnant, you may be offered Intrauterine insemination (IUI) if you are not pregnant after 6 cycles. This is a type of artificial insemination in which sperm is placed inside the womb.
Speak to your GP to find out more about your options.
Find out more about fertility and causes of infertility.
If you conceived your baby previously through IVF or other fertility treatment, you may be worried about trying again, or that you won’t qualify for further NHS treatment. NHS has more information about IVF availability.
Your mental health
It’s important to think about if you are emotionally ready to try again, as well as being physically ready.
Some parents develop mental health problems during pregnancy or in the first year after childbirth. This may include depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress syndrome.
Tell your GP if you have any concerns about how you are feeling. It’s important that you feel emotionally ready to get pregnant again, or at least as ready as you think you ever will be. You may need some help to do this.
“In my experience it’s very hard to feel fully emotionally ready, and it’s a process that continues all through pregnancy and beyond.”
The main treatments for mental health difficulties such as postnatal anxiety are talking therapies, self-help, medication or a combination of these. What you are offered will depend partly on what your symptoms are, how severe they are and what’s available locally.
Medication for mental health
Antidepressants are not usually recommended during pregnancy, especially during the early stages. This is because they might be dangerous for your baby.
But if your doctor thinks that the risks posed by your mental health condition outweigh the risks of the medication, they may suggest you keep taking them.
Talk to your GP if you are taking antidepressants and want to get pregnant again. They can talk to you about the pros and cons based on how you are feeling. Don’t stop taking your medication before talking to your doctor. It’s important that you do not stop taking antidepressants suddenly.
It is not dangerous for the baby if a man is taking antidepressants when a baby is conceived. But some antidepressants can cause a low sex drive or difficulties getting or maintaining an erection.
Make a wellbeing plan
The Wellbeing Plan is a tool that helps you start thinking about how you feel and what support you might need in your pregnancy and after the birth.
You can use it to help you talk to your partner, family, friends or midwife about how you are feeling. You can also keep it private if you want to.
Am I at higher risk of having a neonatal death again?
This may depend on why your baby died. Most neonatal deaths are linked to premature birth because babies born too soon are more at risk of having serious health problems.
If you’ve given birth early before, you’re more likely to give birth early again. But every pregnancy is different, and you will have extra care if you’ve had a premature birth before.
There are other reasons why babies do not survive, even if they are born at full term. Whatever the reason, your medical team will talk about this with you so you can make informed decisions about your care. You will be monitored very closely throughout your pregnancy to prevent any complications.
Read more about pregnancy after a neonatal death.
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