How Long Should You Wait Between Pregnancies

Are you trying to choose the best time to have another baby? If you’re concerned about how long to wait between pregnancies, here’s what you need to know to increase your chances of a good outcome for your newborn.

The birth of a child is a life changing experience for most women. After the joy of bringing a new life into the world, many women begin to consider adding a second brother or sister to their growing family. There’s no doubt that it can be fulfilling for a child to have a brother or sister of similar age to play with as they explore the challenges of childhood. But pregnancy can take a toll on the body making recovery time between pregnancies important. If you want to have another child, how long between pregnancies should you wait?

While it may be tempting to get pregnant as soon as possible after the birth of a child, time is needed between pregnancies to rebuild nutrient stores that may have been depleted by the challenges of eating for two. During pregnancy, levels of calcium, iron, and folate stored in the body may be diminished making it unhealthy to carry a fetus to term. Pregnancy can also involve loss of blood which makes it imperative that blood volume and iron stores be replenished before a second pregnancy is undertaken.

How long between pregnancies is the optimal time to wait? In a study published in The Journal of the American Medical Association in 2006 showed that mothers who waited a minimum of eighteen months between pregnancies had a lower risk of delivering a preterm or low birth weight baby. Waiting longer than two years not only reduced the chances of delivering a preterm newborn but also reduced the risk of the child developing health problems during the first five years of life. Therefore when considering how long to wait between pregnancies, the prevailing recommendation has been to wait at least two years before conceiving again.

Interestingly, previous research had shown that both short time intervals between pregnancies and long ones seem to increase the risk of adverse outcomes. In fact, a previous study suggested that waiting longer than 59 months between pregnancies increased the risk of a negative outcome. Although the reason why longer intervals can increase the risk of problems isn’t clear, it may be due to the fact that a woman’s eggs are older and maternal age is more advanced which increases the risk for pregnancy complications and health problems in the newborn.

According to these studies, how long between pregnancies should you wait? It appears that the time interval which gives the greatest chance for the newborn to be born healthy is between eighteen months and two years. This gives the mother’s body a chance to fully recover and successfully deal with the challenges of another pregnancy, but not so long that eggs have had a chance to age and become less viable.

If you’re confused as to how long to wait between pregnancies, talk to your gynecologist and see what he or she recommends based on your health history.

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