birth spacing, pregnancy, family planning, pregnant, risks, benefits, obstetrics, birthing, northwest arkansas, women's clinicPregnancy spacing is the time from one baby’s birth until the next pregnancy. Understanding the risks and benefits 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.

Why Is Pregnancy Spacing Important?

Each new baby changes your family’s lives. Before you welcome another angel into your family circle, consider these questions with your partner:

  • Are you ready to take care of a newborn again?
  • Will your other child or children be excited to welcome a new brother or sister?
  • How will they respond to sharing attention with a new baby?

It’s also important to consider the timing of your pregnancies. Experts recommend that mothers wait a minimum of 18 months before they conceive again so their body can fully heal. Waiting for the year-and-a-half allows you to focus on your first child and improve the likelihood that your next child is full-term and healthy.

What Are the Risks Of Pregnancies Spaced Too Close Together?

Some specialists believe that pregnancies that occur within 12 months of each other don’t give a mother enough time to recover from pregnancy’s physical stress. For example, pregnancy and breast-feeding can deplete iron and other nutrients. If you conceive before fully replacing your iron and folate stores or healing from a genital tract inflammation, it could affect your health or the baby’s health.

Other limited studies show a connection between births spaced twelve months apart and autism in second-born children, the placenta peeling away from the uterus before delivery, and the placenta covering the cervix. A pregnancy within 18 months of giving birth is associated with an increased risk of low birth weight, preterm birth, and small size for gestational age.

Can Pregnancies Be Spaced Too Far Apart?

Studies suggest that intervals of five years or more between pregnancies also can create difficulties for mothers and babies. A long interval between pregnancies is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure, low birth weight, and small size for gestational age.

What’s The Best Space Between Pregnancies?

Research recommends waiting 18 months but less than five years after giving live birth to lower the risk of pregnancy complications. When planning your next pregnancy, you and your family should consider several factors in addition to health risks, such as current health, age, how many children you have, child-rearing support, and access to health care.

Choosing when to have another baby is a personal decision. Even with careful planning, you can’t always control when conception happens.

If you have questions about birth spacing, contact Creekside Center for Women at 479.582.9268.