When should I try for a baby after a stillbirth?
Making the decision to try again for another baby after a stillbirth is a very personal one.
What is right for one couple might not be for another. You may not feel ready to even read this, while another couple may want try for another baby as soon as possible.
Talk together as a couple, but don't be surprised if one of you feels ready before the other. It can be normal for sexual relations to be affected following stillbirth Talk to each other and seek advice from your GP or practice nurse if this persists.
It’s a good idea to allow your body time to recover physically from the pregnancy and birth. Understanding the best timing to start trying again can be confusing and you may receive conflicting advice from professionals.
The standard advice given to parents who have not suffered a stillbirth is to wait for six months to a year before trying again but this does not take your emotional well-being into consideration. We’d recommend talking to an obstetrician, who is a specialist in woman's health and is likely to have more experience with stillbirth.
"The single biggest thing that helped with my grief was my second son. He was born less than a year after Tristan as we tried for him, successfully, as soon as we had the post-mortem results come back to say that Tristan was perfect. The results told us that the placenta was the problem."
Sarah, who lost her son Tristan at 38 weeks
You may also wish to wait for results from any tests done after your baby died, or a post-mortem. These results might reveal a specific problem and you’ll want to know if this could affect a future pregnancy, or if it can be treated.
Other factors such as your age or general health might affect the timing of when you try again too.
You will have a follow up postnatal appointment with your GP to check your physical health six weeks following the birth. You can also ask questions about future pregnancies if you feel ready to discuss this. Many couples wait until the six-week GP appointment before having sex again.
If you do decide to try again start taking folic acid and make any necessary lifestyle changes, such as quitting smoking and alcohol to ensure you’re in the best possible health before starting to try.
When will I be fertile again after a stillbirth?
Your next period usually comes around five to six weeks after the birth of your baby. However it is normal to bleed for a few weeks following the birth of a baby. This is called lochia. Lochia starts after the birth, is heavy and red for 3-5 days and then is brown or pink and lighter for up to around 10 days. It can sometimes be hard to know whether the blood is your period or lochia.
Read more about the physical effects of a stillbirth.
You will probably ovulate and be fertile two weeks before your first period so you could become pregnant very shortly after the stillbirth. However, it is advisable to wait until any scars have healed (for example from an episiotomy or tear) and your cervix has re-closed, to avoid the risk of infection (for the mother). You may find it helpful to discuss contraception with your GP, midwife or health visitor until you feel ready to try again.
If you are taking anti-depressants
You may have been offered anti-depressants to support you if the shock and trauma of losing your child has caused you to become clinically depressed. If you are taking medication, it is very important to talk to your GP before conceiving again as certain medications can affect your pregnancy and may need careful management.
If you conceived your baby through fertility treatment, you may be feeling very daunted about trying again. Perhaps you’re not certain you’ll qualify for further NHS treatment. You may decide you don’t want to experience fertility treatment again. All of these factors make the pregnancy journey more complex.
Read about being pregnant again after a stillbirth