The time between each pregnancy is a fundamental part of family planning. Understand the importance of the time between pregnancies and what to consider before conceiving again.
Are you thinking of having another child? The time between pregnancies doesn’t just affect your children’s age difference. Here’s what you need to know.
Why is family planning important?
Knowing whether you want to have children in the next few years (or not) can help you and your partner prepare for conception or choose an appropriate method of birth control.
If you already have children, family planning takes on a different meaning. Having another child will change family life. Are you and your partner ready to take care of a newborn again? How will your other children react to sharing care with a new baby?
The timing of pregnancy is also important. Although you and your partner may have your own preferences about the age difference you would like for your children, some studies have shown that the interval between pregnancies affects both the mother and the baby.
What are the risks of not waiting long enough between pregnancies?Research indicates that becoming pregnant within six months of giving birth to a live baby is associated with an increased risk of the following:
- Premature birth
- Removal of the placenta from the inner wall of the uterus before delivery, either partially or completely (placental abruption)
- Low birth weight
- Congenital disorders
In addition, according to recent research, becoming pregnant within two years of giving birth to a live baby is associated with an increased risk of the second baby having autism. The risk is higher for pregnancies less than 12 months apart.
If the pregnancies are very close together, the mother may not have enough time to recover from the previous pregnancy before becoming pregnant again. For example, pregnancy and breastfeeding can deplete your stores of nutrients, particularly folate and iron. If you become pregnant before replenishing those stocks, your health or that of the baby could be affected. Inflammation of the genital tract that occurs during pregnancy and does not fully recover before the next pregnancy can also play a role.
Are there risks associated with letting too much time pass between pregnancies?
Some research suggests that long intervals between pregnancies are a problem for both mother and baby. A pregnancy five years or more after giving birth is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure and signs of damage to other organ systems, usually the kidneys (pre-eclampsia).
It is not clear why long intervals between pregnancies could cause health problems. Pregnancy may improve the uterine ability to promote growth and support of the fetus; however, over time, these beneficial physiological changes may disappear. Other unmeasured factors, such as maternal illnesses, may also play a role.
What is the best time interval between pregnancies?
According to research, to reduce the risk of complications during pregnancy and other health problems, it is suggested to wait 18 to 24 months, but less than 5 years, after giving birth to a live child before attempting to become pregnant again. When it comes to infertility concerns, women over 35 should think about waiting 12 months before becoming pregnant again.
The risks and recommendations are not the same for couples who have had a miscarriage. If you are healthy and feel ready, there may be no need to wait to conceive after a miscarriage.
Deciding when to have another baby is a personal matter. When planning your next pregnancy, you and your partner can think about several factors in addition to health risks and benefits. Until you make a decision about when to have another child, use a reliable method of birth control.
What else do I need to know about waiting a while between pregnancies?
The perfect time to have another baby doesn’t exist. Even with careful planning, you can’t always control when conception occurs. However, understanding the risks associated with planning your pregnancies too soon or too far apart can help you make an informed decision about when to enlarge your family.