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Experts Say There's a “Perfect” Amount of Time to Wait Before Baby No. 2 (Kylie Jenner, Take Note)
A sibling for Stormi Webster may be on Kylie Jenner’s mind, but there are several reasons why new moms should wait more than a year before diving into a second pregnancy.
Kylie Jenner is no stranger to setting rumors alight, and that’s exactly what happened when she posted a picture of her and Travis Scott on Instagram with the caption “baby #2?” soon after Stormi’s first birthday. And while we don't know for sure if Kylie is getting ready to have a second baby, it's not unusual for new moms to want a second child soon after. Licensed marriage and family therapist April Eldemire told Personal Space that many parents start to get the “second baby itch” when their “first starts sleeping through the night” and becomes more independent.
And while hitting that first-year milestone can certainly make you crave another baby, even if you are adjusted to first-time parenthood and can fiscally provide, there are several other factors to consider before having another one right away.
A U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) report titled “Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancies” concluded that a healthy time for a second pregnancy is at least 24 months after the first birth, so the body can fully restore/ prepare for another baby. A slightly shorter necessary recovery period for women of all ages is cited in a JAMA Internal Medicine study, which suggests waiting at least 18 months between delivery of your first baby and conception of your second.
According to research, even women who are young moms are not immune to negative outcomes when they have back-to-back babies. Women observed in the study who were 20-34 years old had a higher chance of “adverse fetal and infant outcome risks” when they had shorter pregnancy intervals, compared to those who waited 18 months.
Women who were 35 and older who had shorter pregnancy intervals had increased risks for maternal mortality and health complications versus those who waited at least 18 months. Therefore, whether you are a young mom or an older one, it's best to talk to your doctor about all possible risk factors before planning a second pregnancy.
Even if your body is ready for baby no. 2, it doesn't necessarily mean that your relationship is ready. Even at the 18-24 month mark, most parents are still adjusting to the lifestyle and relationship changes that naturally occur after having their first child.
Eldemire mentioned new-parenthood research indicating that “almost 70 percent of couples report a decline in marital satisfaction for up to three years after the birth of a baby.” Eldemire suggested that the main reason for the decline is because of the “physiological shift in identity from being solo to becoming parents.”
Jumping into a second pregnancy can be especially daunting because “just when parents have conquered hurdles like getting their baby to sleep through the night, weaning from nursing, teething, and potty training, they have to do it all over again with the second.” Therefore, allowing for time in between pregnancies to restore intimacy and closeness can be important for some relationships before considering a second.
Other factors to consider are the well-being of the mother and whether both parents have the emotional capacity to provide support for two children.
Did the mom suffer from postpartum depression the first time? It helps to have a good support system, which might include “parents, nanny, babysitter, friends, etc.”
Eldemire explained that having children who are closer together in age makes it harder for the first several years, but easier as they get older. She also noted that some parents find it easier to adjust with a second baby "because parents know what to expect.”
The Bottom Line
Making sure the mom has healed from her first pregnancy is an important minimum waiting period before considering having a second baby. However, determining the perfect timing after that varies for each couple, depending on all of those other factors.