While there’s no one right way for a family to grow, there are a few general rules around how to make sure that family grows in a way that’s as physically healthy as possible. Pregnancies that begin less than 18 months after a previous birth can be riskier or less healthy for moms and babies.
How birth spacing can impact pregnancy health
There are a few different ways waiting 18 months or longer after one birth before beginning a new pregnancy can be a healthier choice than a shorter period of time between pregnancies.
- Prenatal care: The first year of Baby’s life is the time when they have the most regularly scheduled doctors’ appointments – and even when you’re not taking them to the doctor, they're still pretty time-consuming – and so they should be! But one of the consequences of pregnancy for parents with children 18 months old or younger is that they’re more likely to get more delayed or inconsistent prenatal care than parents who don’t have such young children at home.
- Health effects: It’s hard to say exactly why closely spaced pregnancies have the health effects they do, but it may be because the body doesn’t have as much time to regain and build up nutrients that are needed between pregnancies. In any case, closely spaced pregnancies are at a higher risk for preterm birth, low birth weight, and placental abruption.
When and how to expand your family is a very personal choice, but being informed about the health impact birth spacing can have is an important part of that choice. Having birth control that keeps families as in control of their reproductive health as possible is another important factor. If you’re thinking about the right time to start trying for another baby, it’s always a good idea to have a conversation with your doctor about your health ahead of time.