Thinking about having a baby or perhaps your second or third? Most people in this situation weigh up finances, whether or not you are ready for another bout of sleep-deprived nights or how your other child might react to sharing your attention with a new baby, but another very important factor to consider is pregnancy spacing. The time interval between your pregnancies can impact both mom and baby’s health. Here’s what you need to know.
Why is family planning important?
Starting a pregnancy too soon after your last live birth can increase the risk of:
- Premature birth
- The placenta partially or completely tearing away from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery (placental abruption)
- Low birth weight
- Maternal death
- Child death
On the other hand, research has also shown that if you wait more than 5 years after your last live birth, there is a higher chance of potentially life-threatening maternal health problems. To reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and other health problems, research suggests waiting 18 to 24 months but less than five years after a live birth before attempting your next pregnancy. If you have had a miscarriage or abortion, it is recommended that you wait at least 6 months before falling pregnant again.
Why the length of the timing between pregnancies should have these effects is not well understood, but emerging evidence suggests that closely spaced pregnancies might not give a mother’s body enough time to recover from pregnancy before moving on to the next. For example, pregnancy and breast-feeding can deplete your stores of folate and iron. Another factor that might be responsible is inflammation of the genital tract that can develop during pregnancy, which may need time to heal before the next pregnancy.
There are many things to consider when deciding to have your next baby, and timing between pregnancies is just one of them. Until you make this decision, use a reliable method of birth control . Even with careful planning and contraception, you can’t always control when you will fall pregnant. However, understanding the risks associated with timing your pregnancies too close together or too far apart can help you make an informed decision about when to grow your family.
To reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and other health problems, research suggests waiting 18 to 24 months but less than five years after a live birth before attempting your next pregnancy. If you have had a miscarriage or abortion, it is recommended that you wait at least 6 months before falling pregnant again.