Surprising news about getting pregnant after miscarriage

A new study challenges the idea that couples should wait to try again.

woman holding tissue

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When a women has a miscarriage, often one of the first things she wants to know is: “When is it OK to start trying to get pregnant again?” Traditionally, doctors have told women to wait three months before trying for another baby.

But now, research from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) suggests that trying to get pregnant within the first three months after a miscarriage might actually increase your chances of a healthy pregnancy.

The researchers looked at about 1,000 women who had experienced a pregnancy loss before 20 weeks, and followed them for their next six menstrual cycles. (Note that none of these pregnancy losses were ectopic or molar pregnancies). If a woman got pregnant, the researchers followed her until the pregnancy was over, whether it ended in a miscarriage or live birth.

The results are illuminating: 76 percent of the women started trying to get pregnant in the first three months after the miscarriage. Those women had a 69 percent chance of getting pregnant, compared to a 51 percent chance in those who didn’t start trying until after three months. More importantly, 53 percent of the pregnancies that started within the first three months led to a live birth, compared to just 36 percent in the group that waited.

“Our data suggest that women who try for a new pregnancy within three months can conceive as quickly, if not quicker, than women who wait for three months or more,” Enrique Schisterman, an epidemiologist with the NICHD, and a senior author on the study, said in a release. The study was published in the journal Obstetrics and Gynecology.

The reasons behind the traditional recommendations to wait are two-fold: one, previous research has shown an increase in complications if a pregnancy starts soon after a miscarriage. But the authors on this study say they didn’t observe any increase in the risk of pregnancy complications in the women who got pregnant within that three-month window.

But the second reason still bears some weight: some couples may need time for emotional healing before trying to get pregnant after miscarriage. The best time to try again is when you feel ready to.

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