Is it Easier to Conceive the Second Baby than the First?

Contributor: Julie Kirk
Second baby

Is it easy to get pregnant after having a baby? If you are thinking about whether it will be easier to get pregnant the second time around, know it is easier for some women and harder for others. As with your first, how long it takes you to conceive your second baby depends on whether you have any current fertility or other medical problems, as well as other factors.

Your Fertility May Have Changed

It isn't possible to predict how easy or difficult it will be to conceive your second baby compared to your first. How long it takes you to get pregnant, whether it's your first, second, or subsequent babies, is a matter of the natural monthly chance of conception plus other factors that affect fertility.

Your fertility can change between your pregnancies. New problems that develop during or after your first pregnancy can cause secondary infertility and make it more difficult to conceive another baby. Common reasons for secondary infertility include your age and problems with ovulation.

Age and Fertility

If you are a few years older than when you had your first baby, it might be more difficult to get pregnant the next time. Your fertility declines as you age because you have fewer eggs in your ovaries to ovulate.

  • According to a 2011 Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology Canada article, this is even more so if you are older than age 35.
  • A study reported in the PLOS One journal by researchers at the University of St. Andrews and the University of Edinburgh found:
    • Women have only about 12 percent of their original eggs left at age 30.
    • By age 40, there is only about three percent eggs left.

Your partner's age is also an important factor in causing secondary infertility. Older men tend to have a decrease in fertility due to a decline in semen quality, diminished sperm motility, abnormal sperm, and other factors according to a study in the Reproductive Biology and Endocrinology Journal.

Other Factors That Cause Secondary Infertility

In addition to your age, other factors since your first pregnancy can make it harder to conceive a second baby. According to a review of the causes of infertility by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the following factors can cause you to have problems conceiving again after a pregnancy:

  • Couple receiving advice from doctor
    Changes in your menstrual cycles and ovulation, caused by such problems as:
    • Hormone dysfunctions, such as polycystic ovarian syndrome and thyroid disease
    • Changes in weight, stress, diabetes, and other health conditions
    • New medications, including antibiotics, steroids, and antihistamines
    • Substance abuse, including tobacco, alcohol, and drugs, according to the American Society for Reproductive Medicine
  • Complications during your first pregnancy or during labor, delivery, or after delivery, such as uterine infection
  • Damage or adhesions to the fallopian tubes or ovaries caused by:
    • Pelvic or abdominal surgery
    • Endometriosis
    • Infection in your cervix or tubes from a sexually transmitted infection (STI)
  • New abnormalities inside the uterus such as fibroids, polyps, or scarring of the lining (endometrium)

Factors That Might Make It Easier to Conceive Again

There are a few factors that might make it it easier rather than more difficult to conceive your second baby including:

Endometriosis Improves

Women with a history of endometriosis might find they conceive quicker after the first baby. The hormones during pregnancy can improve the areas of endometriosis in the pelvic cavity that made it difficult to get pregnant the first time.

Less Adhesions

During your first pregnancy, with the growth of your uterus and ligaments, any adhesions around your fallopian tubes and ovaries might stretch and break, making it easier for your eggs to get into your tubes.

Less Stress

If you are less stressed when you are trying to conceive your second baby, you might get pregnant quicker than your first. Stress can cause your ovulation and menstrual cycles to be irregular making it harder to conceive.

In addition, some women who had difficulty conceiving with their first child and did so with an assisted reproductive procedure get pregnant the next time without treatment. A Japanese study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that 20.7 percent of the women in the study who had conceived through in vitro fertilization had a second child without any fertility treatment.

Is a Woman More Fertile After Giving Birth?

Some women may experience being more fertile after birth while others will not. Every woman's fertility is individual and varied. There are a number of factors that could affect a women's fertility positively after giving birth and affect her negatively as well. So, there is no definitive yes or no answer to for whether a woman is more fertile after giving birth. Typically, a woman's fertility will resume to what it was prior to becoming pregnant the first time if none of the considerations above factor in.

How Soon After Birth Can a Woman Conceive

After giving birth, a woman can conceive once she starts ovulating. This is approximately six weeks after childbirth, but it will vary from woman to woman. Once a woman begins to have regular periods, it is most likely she is ovulating as well. However, there is a chance ovulation can occur prior to her first postpartum period and she may get pregnant before even getting her first period.

When to Talk to Your Doctor

Talk with your doctor if you are having trouble getting pregnant after six or more months of regular intercourse around your ovulation. He or she can check your overall medical history and health and decide if it's time to go see a fertility specialist.

The usual recommendation is to get a fertility evaluation if you have been trying for one year without conceiving if you are under age 35. According to the American Society of Reproductive Medicine article cited above, consider getting an evaluation as early as six months if:

  • You are age 35 or older or your partner is age 50 or older.
  • You have one or more obvious factors that can interfere with your fertility as outlined above in the first section.
  • Your partner has a low sperm count or problems with sperm motility or other sperm qualities.

Easier for Some, Harder for Others

Some couples conceive the second baby quicker than the first while others take longer. Women who develop problems that cause secondary infertility have a harder time getting pregnant. If you have concerns about your fertility, consult your gynecologist or see a fertility specialist. With professional help, you will be on your way to adding another baby to your family.

Is it Easier to Conceive the Second Baby than the First?