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January 31, 2017

How to decide when to have a second child

Parenting Katie's Baby
013117_katiesbaby_ke Kerry English/for PhillyVoice

Katie is so excited to have another baby. But not quite yet.

My son was 2 months old when I turned to my husband and said, “I’m ready to have another one.” I enjoy motherhood so much. I am very excited to have another baby and give Killian a sibling. Since I am 35 years old, I do not want to wait too long to try for baby No. 2. But when is the right time to have a second child? After discussing at length with my husband, we have decided to wait until Killian is a year old before we have another child. There are a few reasons for our decision that you may find helpful if you are also planning when to have a second baby.

Pregnancy Health

Women are advised to wait a year between giving birth and having another baby to ensure the healthiest possible next pregnancy. Mothers have vitamin depletion, reproductive system strain and weight fluctuations after giving birth, and experts say waiting at least a year helps ensure a woman’s body has rebounded and is ready for another pregnancy. Of course, it is not a hard and fast rule. There are many Irish twins in my family. But it is something to keep in mind when family planning.

Age and Fertility

This is the largest personal concern for me in planning for my next pregnancy. When my husband and I decided to start a family, I became pregnant immediately. I was 34 years old and grateful that I did not experience the fertility issues so many American women face. I want another healthy, easy pregnancy and, most importantly, a healthy, happy second baby. I will be 36 years old when Killian celebrates his first birthday. Even though there are a number of risks to mother and baby that are more likely for women 35 and older, the frequency of those risks has decreased over the last 20 years. After speaking with my obstetrician, I feel confident waiting until I am 36 years old to have our second child.

Financial Impact

Two babies cost twice as much. Sure we already have the stroller and car seat, the bassinette and bottles, but having a second child will, of course, cost money. Planning and budgeting for baby No. 2 is a fiscally smart idea. The United States Department of Agriculture’s Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion offers a tool on its website that will calculate the cost of raising a child based on your number of children, your annual income, where you live and whether you have a one- or two-parent home. If your funds have been depleted from your first child, it may make sense to wait and save a little before having your next child.

Factoring in Your First Child

Another large consideration in planning for a second baby is your first child. I want to breastfeed Killian until he is a year old. While it is an old wives' tale that nursing mothers cannot get pregnant, breastfeeding can affect a woman’s ovulation. If I end up in the latter group, I do not want to have to choose between weaning my son and conceiving his sibling. Waiting until the fall eliminates that decision. If we start trying to conceive when Killian is a year old, my hope is that he will have a brother or sister by the time he is 2. Two years old means that he could be potty trained, which sounds great, because the idea of two babies in diapers is daunting to me.

Decide with Your Partner

I always recommend communicating with your partner about every decision large and small. Deciding if and when to have a child is something both partners should be on the same page for. My husband originally wanted to wait until our son was 2 years old to start trying for baby No. 2, and I was ready to have a second child two months ago. We landed on waiting until Killian is a year old through discussion and compromise.

While I am so excited to have another baby, give Killian a brother or sister and expand our family, I know waiting a little while longer is right for us. And if we are not blessed with another baby for whatever reason, I will still feel like the luckiest mother in the world because of my precious Killian.

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