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Spacing pregnancies is a good thing?

Pregnancy Spacing

New research published this year indicates that there may be an optimal time between pregnancies. The research found that pregnancies that were spaced less than 18 months apart or more than 59 months (5 years and nine months) apart carried a greater risk of the baby being born being small or, preterm.

There seems to be some evidence to support waiting between pregnancies, though not too long. This study pulled together all the best research done into this question and included 11 million women who had been pregnant. The study found that having another pregnancy less than six months after giving birth led to the most dramatic difference in weights of babies and numbers of babies being born preterm. It is unclear as to why this is, although several theories have been discussed.

One theory is that the mother’s body doesn’t have enough time to recover from the last pregnancy and she is deficient in important nutrients that the baby misses out on. Why the longer interval has an effect as well is perplexing. It could be to do with the fact that women are older and age related problems are having an impact. It is probably worth while for women to consider avoiding a second pregnancy for 18 months following giving birth, in order to maximise both their health and that of their baby.

Published 12/09/2012

Dr Hannah Dahlen is the Associate Professor of Midwifery at the University of Western Sydney. She has been a midwife for more than 20 years. Hannah is also an executive member of the Australian College of Midwives, NSW Branch. She has researched women's birth experiences at home and in hospital and published extensively in this area. Hannah's website is www.hannahdahlen.com.au

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