Miscarriage is hard. It sucks. The fact that it is commonplace–around one in five pregnancies end in miscarriage–does not make it any less devastating.
And for years a miscarriage has been something of a one-two punch:. Having a miscarriage not only dashes your hopes for your current pregnancy, it also supposedly means shelving your future baby hopes for months, so your hormones can “settle down”.
Nothing can help with the first punch. It’s brutal. But there’s good news for the second: You do not need to wait to conceive again after a routine first or early second trimester miscarriage, according to the latest research.
How soon after a miscarriage can I get pregnant?
Despite the latest research, many doctors continue to recommend waiting at least 3 months before trying to conceive after a miscarriage. The World Health Organization (WHO) is even more conservative, stating that women ought to wait at least six months.
Where does this old advice come from? It was based on a hodgepodge of vague, biological-sounding reasoning (“Wait for your hormones to settle back down”), conventional wisdom, and the fact that outcomes in a subsequent pregnancy are better when conceived at least a nine months after a live birth.
In other words, the old advice was not based on any actual studies of pregnancies conceived after miscarriages. Now we have those data, and they soundly refuted the old advice.
If anything, studies suggest that waiting too long after a miscarriage could lower your chances of conceiving again.
Consider the conclusions of a meta-analysis of 16 studies involving a total of over a million women. Women who conceive within 6 months of a miscarriage were significantly less likely to have another miscarriage. Not only that, but these women also had lower chances of delivering preterm. And they were not at higher risk of adverse outcomes like stillbirth, preeclampsia, or low birthweight.
studies suggest that waiting too long after a miscarriage could lower your chances of conceiving again.
What about even shorter wait times after miscarriage?
Are your “out of whack” hormones going to muck up your chances?
Nope! Here too studies find that even very short wait times of less than three months have no apparent deleterious effects.
Women who became pregnant within 3 months are no more likely to experience another miscarriage, a preterm birth, or pregnancy complications than women who became pregnant after a longer wait period, according to a study of 677 women (Wong et al. 2015). Another study of just over a thousand women found that conceiving within 3 months corresponded to greater chances of a successful pregnancy than longer wait times (53% versus 36%).
WAIT, can we invert the old advice on waiting, and instead tell couples the sooner, the better?
Well, not so fast.
We do not know whether conceiving quickly after a miscarriage actually lowers your risk of a subsequent miscarriage.
To figure this out, we would need to plug a big gaping hole in the research to date: No one knows whether couples with longer times to the next pregnancy waited to conceive or simply took longer to become pregnant again. Without knowing this, we cannot rule out that couples with higher fertility–those wonderful get-pregnant-at-a-drop-of-a-hat types–generally have a lower risk of miscarriage.
No one knows whether couples with longer times to the next pregnancy waited to conceive or simply took longer to become pregnant again.
But it is possible–and biologically plausible–that a prior pregnancy would boost your chances of a subsequent successful pregnancy. We know that pregnancy improves the receptiveness of the uterus–and this makes it easier for a fertilized egg to burrow into the uterine lining and set up shop. Better implantation improves blood flow to the developing embryo and, at least in theory, lower the odds of another miscarriage.
While the reasons for the lower risk of another miscarriage with shorter wait times remain unclear, the take home is not: If you are ready to try again, go for it. You need not place your baby hopes on hold!
Ready to try again and looking to learn everything you could possibly want to know about prenatal testing. Read more here.