In the past, when I’ve had a family suffer a miscarriage, I’ve advised them to wait three to six months before trying to conceive again. There were a couple of reasons for this: (1) this gives the endometrium (the lining of the uterus) time to recover and refresh itself, and (2) this gives the family time to deal with the loss of their child emotionally, relationally, and spiritually.
CNN recognizes this when it reports, “When women have a miscarriage, one of the first questions they often ask is how long they should wait before getting pregnant again.”
Now, research from Scotland may change the advice that I (and other doctors) give because it indicates that “the sooner they start trying, the better.”
In fact, those “who conceive within six months of a miscarriage instead of waiting up to a year reduce their risk of another miscarriage by one-third, and they also increase their chances of a healthy and successful pregnancy.”
At present, “guidelines from the World Health Organization … recommend women delay getting pregnant for at least six months after a miscarriage,” the AP reports.
Lead investigator Sophinee Bhattacharya, of the University of Aberdeen, “said WHO guidelines are based on a study from Latin America, where women usually have children at an earlier age than in the West.” Yet, “because women in developed countries often wait until they are older to have children, Bhattacharya said any delays to conception could reduce the chances of a healthy baby.”
Before reaching those conclusions, investigators “collected data on 30,937 women who had had miscarriages in their first pregnancy and then became pregnant again,” HealthDay reported.
The team eventually discovered that “women who got pregnant again within six months were less likely … to have to terminate the pregnancy or to have an ectopic pregnancy compared with women who got pregnant six to 12 months after their miscarriage.”
They were also “less likely to have a cesarean delivery, have a premature delivery or have a low birth weight baby,” according to the paper in the BMJ.
The team did find, however, that “getting pregnant less than six months after a miscarriage was associated with higher risk of induced labor than an interval of six to 12 months,” MedPage Today reported.
And, “mental recovery may take some time … Bhattacharya’s group acknowledged. But a delay poses problems for women in the Western world, where for social and economic reasons women tend to delay childbearing, they noted.”
Medscape also covered the story.
So, how will this change my advice? Not very much. I’ll still recommend that families that experience a miscarriage undergo counseling (marriage or family counseling) to talk about and deal with the incredible impact that losing a child can have on emotional health, relationship health, and spiritual health.
However, once a family has dealt with the emotional, relational, and spiritual aspects of their loss, they then can consider conceiving again … whether it be 2 months, 4 months, 6 months, or later.