Planning a Pregnancy

Planning a pregnancy can be an exciting and anxious time.

You may have many questions, or you may be still wondering what questions to ask. In the following web pages we have addressed some of the things you may like to consider when planning a pregnancy, such as diet, exercise, fertility and choosing an obstetrician.

Being able to plan a pregnancy is valuable, yet more than 60% of pregnancies are unplanned. If your pregnancy is unplanned it does not necessarily mean that your health or the health of your baby is compromised. If you have any concerns, simply speak with your doctor.

Deciding to have a baby

As you prepare for pregnancy, there are many decisions you will need to make including:

  • when you would like to have a baby;
  • which obstetrician to choose;
  • which hospital to go to;
  • if you will have genetic counseling;
  • if you will need fertility assistance, and
  • if you will use private health insurance.

Deciding to have a baby is a major decision and can be a life changing event. The first step in planning a pregnancy is considering how a baby may impact on the life of you and your partner.

Some of the things you may like to consider include:

  • How will a baby impact your relationship?
  • Do you plan on being a single parent?
  • Are you financially ready to have a baby and raising a child?
  • Will you be able to have maternity leave or will you still work when the baby is born?
  • Will you need childcare support?
  • Do you have friends and family who can support you and the baby?
  • Are your parenting values compatible with your partners?
  • When do you plan to have a baby?
  • Are you physically ready to have a baby?
  • Is where you live suitable for raising a baby?
  • Do you have access to transport with a baby?
  • How many children would you like to have?
  • Why would you like to have a baby?

Having time to plan for a baby is valuable, but most pregnancies are unplanned. Fortunately, even if you fall pregnant sooner than you anticipate, you will have many months to prepare for the birth of your baby.

Planning another pregnancy

Even for women who have already had a pregnancy, planning another pregnancy is a major decision and may be complicated by experiences with previous pregnancies and raising other children.

When to have another pregnancy may be influenced by the age of other children, your current circumstances and medical considerations.

Women may be especially anxious about another pregnancy if they have had a miscarriage, still birth or termination.

Your obstetrician will be able to provide you with sound medical and counseling advice to help you plan for another pregnancy.

The following information sheets may be helpful. You can also download the information as a PDF, wherever you see this symbol:

  • Planning a pregnancy after a miscarriage
  • Planning a pregnancy after a still birth (Information Sheet available soon)
  • Planning a pregnancy after a termination (Information Sheet available soon)

Planning a pregnancy after a miscarriage

Planning another pregnancy after a miscarriage may be difficult emotionally for many couples. It is important to recognise your feelings following a miscarriage and seek counseling and support. A subsequent pregnancy can uncover unexpectedly strong feelings about a previous loss and it is important to have professional support available. The timing for planning another pregnancy after a miscarriage is as unique as each couple. Your obstetrician or general practitioner can recommend counselors and appropriate support.

When can another pregnancy occur after a miscarriage?
It is possible for another pregnancy to occur during the next ovulation cycle. The next cycle may be delayed by a few weeks following a miscarriage. From a physical perspective, it is important not to delay another pregnancy for too long if maternal age and fertility are an issue.

What is the chance of having another miscarriage?
Miscarriage is very common, occurring in approximately 17 to 20% of pregnancies. Most couples have a successful pregnancy after a miscarriage, however if you experience two or more miscarriages, known as recurrent miscarriage, you should speak to your obstetrician for specialist advice. Less than one percent of women will have recurrent miscarriage. A specialist may be able to investigate and establish if there is any underlying condition which may cause miscarriage.

Maternal age also increases the risk of miscarriage. Women over 40 years of age have a 50% chance of miscarriage. It is recommended women do not delay another pregnancy after a miscarriage in terms of maternal age, as each year increases the risk of miscarriage.

What conditions could cause recurrent miscarriage?
Some underlying conditions may include a congenital abnormality of the uterus, a blood disorder or an infection of the uterus. Of the less than one percent of women who experience recurrent miscarriage, only half will have an underlying condition identified.

Is there anything I can do to prevent a miscarriage?
Unfortunately there is usually nothing you can do to prevent a miscarriage. Many women feel a sense of guilt that somehow they could have prevented a miscarriage and this can be perpetuated by well meaning friends and family who offer scientifically unfounded theories. Some scenarios which we know do not cause miscarriages include stress, grief, hot baths, exercise and a myriad of other everyday activities.

There is evidence that during major influenza epidemics there is a slight increase in the risk of miscarriage, which may be linked to high fevers; however this is an extremely small number of cases and unfortunately it is virtually impossible to eliminate the possibility of contracting the flu. Having a flu vaccination can protect you from some of the more severe strains of flu and is worth considering if you are planning a pregnancy. Speak to your obstetrician for further advice.

Another factor worth considering is avoiding alcohol during the early phase of pregnancy. A study in the United States indicated one glass of sherry per day almost doubled the risk of miscarriage.

How can I alleviate my anxiety about another pregnancy?
Your obstetrician can provide valuable assurance and specialist advice during your pregnancy. They may recommend more regular appointments and scans during the early phase of pregnancy to provide assurance on the progress of the pregnancy. It may also help to identify milestones in the pregnancy and decreased likelihood of miscarriage as the pregnancy progresses.
A counselor can provide further emotional support and strategies for coping with anxiety during subsequent pregnancies.

This information is provided as general information only. It is not intended or implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always see your doctor regarding your personal health matters. © National Association of Specialist Obstetricians & Gynaecologists 2010