Pregnancy can occur immediately after a stillbirth, The research published in the Lancet, are reassuring for women who are in fear they will have a premature birth or stillborn again.
Researchers at Curtin University, Australia said the time between pregnancies has been identified as a potential risk factor for adverse birth outcomes.
No official recommendations for how long women should wait before trying to have a child again after suffering a stillbirth currently exist because of limited medical evidence.
The researchers looked at the birth records of 14,452 women who had previously had a stillbirth – which was defined as a baby’s death after 22 weeks’ pregnancy – in Western Australia, Finland and Norway between 1980 and 2016.
Sixty-three per cent of women conceived within 12 months and this was not associated with increased risk of another stillbirth, preterm birth or small baby compared to women who left two or more years between pregnancies.
The study found those who conceived within 12 months of stillbirth were no more likely to have another stillbirth, or a preterm birth, than women who left two or more years between pregnancies,
Senior author Dr Gavin Pereira said: ‘The World Health Organisation recommends waiting at least two years following live birth, and at least six months following spontaneous or induced abortion to reduce the risk of adverse birth outcomes in the following pregnancy, but there is no recommendation for the waiting time following a stillbirth.
Dr Annette Regan, lead author, said: ‘We were able to demonstrate that conception of the next child within 12 months after a stillbirth was not associated with an increased risk of adverse pregnancy outcomes.
‘The research may have important implications for families who have experienced a stillbirth.
‘Our findings should provide reassurance to women who wish to become pregnant or unexpectedly become pregnant shortly after a stillbirth.’
Dr Pereira said previous research suggested that women needed sufficient time to recover from a previous pregnancy to reduce the risk of fetal growth restriction and preterm birth.
Existing studies have suggested that less than six months between a stillbirth and pregnancy is associated with a nearly two-fold increase in the odds of preterm birth, low birth weight compared with longer intervals.
As well as this, a 2015 study including over three million from The University of Aberdeen found that women who had had a previous stillbirth were more than four times more likely to have another than women who had not.
Manchester University’s Professor Alex Heazell, spokesman for Tommy’s stillbirth charity and the Royal College of Obstetrics and Gynaecology, said to the BBC: ‘As long as they [women] get all the information about why their baby died, then the choice of when to have another baby is down to when they are psychologically ready.
According to him there is no physiological reason to wait more than a year before trying for another baby, but said: ‘Stress may exacerbate things and so waiting until that goes may be a reason for some to hold off.’