Ready for Another Child?
You're the one who's going to deliver this child, so it's critical to factor in:
Your physical health: "Even if you had an uncomplicated pregnancy, it's ideal to wait at least 14 to 15 months to allow your body to fully recover from childbirth," says ob-gyn Jennifer Wu, M.D., of New York City's Lenox Hill Hospital. Don't want to wait that long? Dr. Wu recommends a minimum of six months between pregnancies so your uterus can shrink back to size and, if you had a c-section, to allow the incision to heal.
If your first pregnancy was complicated—say you had a postpartum hemorrhage or blood pressure problems—wait until those issues are resolved before trying again. On the other hand, advancing age or medical conditions (such as endometriosis or polycystic ovary syndrome) may prompt you to get rolling sooner.
Your emotional health: Bringing a baby into your life is a huge adjustment. Carlsbad, California, mom Sheri Menelli felt overwhelmed with responsibilities when her daughter was born. "We couldn't even entertain the notion of having another baby until Allie turned two," she says. "We were used to eating out and going on vacations, and we lost that intimacy." Menelli has since added twins, now 17 months, to her brood.
Your career: Are you angling for a promotion that you'd like to secure before getting pregnant again? Do you have a big project ahead that will involve late nights and lots of stress? Lynn Ludwig of Bethesda, Maryland, started her own interior decorating business when her son was 6 months old so she could be home with him. Now that business is booming, she's not so sure she even wants a second child. "Adding another child would require expanding my nanny share agreement, defeating my goal to be home with my children," she says.
Of course, no matter how carefully you try to plan your family's size and spacing, countless variables can shake things up. Julie Watson Smith of Boulder, Colorado, hoped to wait two or three years before having another child but got pregnant in spite of using birth control. Now her two youngest are only 19 months apart. "I rarely have a chance to catch my breath," says Smith. "But I'm thrilled with the dynamics of my family."
Writer Aviva Patz lives in Montclair, New Jersey, with her husband and two children. They're contemplating a third.