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Trying to conceive a first baby is a tremendous adventure in which everything is unknown.

You may be a seasoned parent now that you are contemplating a second pregnancy, but there are still plenty of questions and plenty of things to explore. How do you decide when to try to get pregnant with your second baby? 

Sibling relationships and child spacing

"I love my brother a bit because he is lovely, but I don't love him all that much because he hits me sometimes." That is what my five-year old daughter has to say about her younger sibling. Like her, everybody has their own opinion about siblings. Some think that kids will get along very well if they are close in age, while others think a bigger age gap is better for those who want to have a peaceful home. The fact of the matter is that you will never know how two siblings will get on with each other. Child spacing only plays a tiny role in that there is also their gender, and more importantly their personalities. The perceived quality of the future sibling relationship therefore doesn't need to be a factor in deciding when to try for another baby at all. Instead, plan to have the age gap that is most convenient to you. Then, as you are trying to conceive again, accept that getting pregnant may take quite a while longer than you expect, even if you conceived immediately when you got pregnant with your first child.

Trying to conceive

Your doctor will advise you to wait until you have recovered from your first pregnancy and birth completely before trying for another baby. If you have had an uncomplicated vaginal birth, that will still be nine months to a year, if you ask most medical professionals. Mothers who gave birth by cesarean section will ideally wait a little longer. Some doctors will even recommend you wait 18 months before getting pregnant again. If you are breastfeeding, nature may well make the decision to delay pregnancy for you. It is not uncommon for a woman to have no menstrual periods at all while she is breastfeeding. I breastfed my youngest for two years and didn't get my period until after I quit, for instance. It is possible (for some women) to get pregnant while you are breastfeeding, but very rare to conceive while you are exclusively nursing your baby. If you are still working on weight loss and fitness after your first pregnancy, it's a good idea to get your body in order before you conceive again. Trust me, it will be harder to get back in shape if you have two pregnancies to work off. A healthy weight is important, but so is the condition of your abdominal muscles. Finally, pregnancy, birth and breastfeeding can all place a strain on your body. Getting tested for nutritional deficiencies before you try for another baby will ensure that you are in good health when you get pregnant. Supplements and a changed diet can help if you are indeed deficient in any minerals or vitamins.

When you are pregnant again

Looking after a child can be a challenge when you are suffering from pregnancy signs and complaints like morning sickness, fatigue, and insomnia. It's even more of a problem if you encounter any pregnancy complications that require you to be on bed rest or that prevents you from lifting a young child up (if you have one, that is). On the positive side, children basically force you into physical activity, and you will probably find that you are in much better shape the second time around! You will also have to worry about "strange" pregnancy symptoms less, because you will recognize most of them. Mind you, it's quite possible that your second pregnancy is quite different than your first even when it comes to your symptoms, so be prepared for that. The one difference that most second-time mothers notice is that they start "showing" much earlier, and may even need to pull their maternity clothes out during the first trimester of pregnancy. You'll have plenty of time to prepare your firstborn for the arrival of a little baby brother or sister during your pregnancy. Many parents like to read books about siblings to their child, go visit as many babies as possible, and get their child's baby album out. Try to strike a balance between telling your child siblings can be a lot of fun, and also painting a realistic picture of what babies are like.

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