Suffering a miscarriage is heartbreaking, and millions of women around the world experience it. Miscarriages are common, with 10-15% of pregnancies ending in miscarriage, most early in the first trimester. But it is possible for miscarriage to occur later in pregnancy, or for complications during pregnancy to lead to a stillbirth. A stillbirth is defined as the death of a baby after 22-24 weeks gestation. It's a devastating tragedy for all involved. At some point, once you pass that 12-14 week mark, you just assume everything is going to be OK, you know?
There are many factors that can lead to a stillbirth, and because many women end up having to deliver their baby either vaginally or via c-section, the physical recovery can be difficult. For a long time, doctors have advised women who suffered a stillbirth to wait up to a year before they tried to get pregnant again. But a new study suggest that waiting may not be necessary - researchers now believe that getting pregnant right after a stillbirth is safe.
The international study published in the Lancet looked at 14,452 pregnancies in Western Australia, Finland, and Norway. They studied birth records of women who had a previous stillbirth, over a span of 37 years. Of those subsequent pregnancies, 2% ended in stillbirth, 18% were preterm deliveries, and 9% of the babies were born at a lower birth weight.
However, the women in the study who conceived less than 12 months after a stillbirth were not at a higher risk of having a subsequent stillbirth or other complications than those who waited two or more years before trying again. 63% of the pregnancy records studied, or 9,109, were conceived within 12 months after a stillbirth.
It's definitely an important study, and will hopefully give hope to women and families who've suffered a tragic stillbirth. However, the study focused on the physiological readiness of a woman after a stillbirth. In other words, there doesn't seem to be any physiological reason to way a year or more. However, the psychological and emotional affects of having a stillbirth also need to be considered.
For a lot of women, it takes time to get mentally and emotionally ready to try again, and that fear doesn't really go away. And that is OK. However long it takes you to be ready to try again is the exact right amount of time you need.