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How long between pregnancies?

Proper Child Spacing

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Updated July 01, 2014

Suginami-ku, Tokyo, Japan
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Child spacing.

Birth intervals.

They sound like really foreign words and concepts. It wasn't until fairly recently we even kidded ourselves about having any control over how close or far apart our children were.

A recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine reports that there are healthier outcomes for both mom and baby when there is a gap of 18 - 23 months from birth to subsequent conception.

This particular study showed an increase in prematurity, low birth weight, and small for size babies when the children were conceived prior to the 18 months, or greater than the 23 months.

These are likely to be nutritionally related problems. This has also been shown in other studies.

While this is not a new concept, many people are just now stopping to think about the "timing" of their pregnancies.

Wow, wouldn't it really be great to be able to plan to this extent?

Let's be realistic. Our bodies don't work like the clocks to which we enjoy likening them. If they did then we wouldn't have problems with primary and secondary infertility. There wouldn't be unwanted conceptions. It might be a perfect world.

Certainly I am not saying that we have no control, just that we can't always predict or prevent conception. Birth control is not an exact science. No method of birth control is 100% effective in preventing pregnancy. And yet, what they would have you to believe is that sending new mothers home with starter packs of birth control is the key to child spacing.

Contrary to popular belief, breastfeeding is a form of natural child spacing. This has been shown in many studies. However, there is a particular way in which you have to breastfeed: exclusively day and night. Most of the studies also say that you should also not be having periods. Although, having periods right after birth does not necessarily indicate fertility has returned.

Now, I am not saying that everyone needs to use this form of natural child spacing. What I am saying is that when left to its own devices your body would normally delay childbearing, suggesting that this is better for you and the children involved.

Birth control certainly has its place, even when you are breastfeeding. Although most methods of birth that include hormones cannot be started for breastfeeding mothers until at least six weeks postpartum.

All this said what about spacing babies?

If we could have our preferences, many people would choose between 2 and 3 years between their children. Everyone has a different reason for why they'd like their children the distance apart that they do, and some prefer timings that go directly against medical advice.

The point? Do the best you can.

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