Before we all hopped on the baby-making-train, we had our different ideas on what the ideal child spacing looks like and when will be the best time to bring this train to a final halt.

So far, some of us have been lucky to have ‘things’ go according to plans. However, another set of us have not had such ‘luck’ on our hands.

Now, I have personally always viewed pregnancy spacing plans as a personal decision for couples. However, as we plan, it won’t hurt taking into consideration what medical research says…

According to Mayo Clinic,

Pregnancy that occurs within 12 months of a previous live birth increases the risk of:

  • Autism in the second child
  • Placenta abruption before delivery
  • Placenta attaching to the lower part of the uterine wall, partially or totally covering the cervix  in women who had previous delivery through C-Section

Pregnancy that occurs within 18 months of a previous live birth increases the risk of:

  • Preterm birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Small size for gestational age

On the other hand, there are also suggested risks with pregnancy spacing of 5 years or over –

  • High blood pressure and excess protein in urine after 20 weeks of pregnancy
  • Preterm birth
  • Low birth weight
  • Small size for gestational age

USAID, on their own part, actually recommend that the healthy timeline should be at least 24 months after a live birth (which coincides with WHO/UNICEF 24-months breastfeeding recommendation) and at least 6 months after a miscarriage.

Now, in as much as some of us may be ‘healthy products’ of pregnancies that occurred less than 12 months following a previous live birth and we probably know other ‘healthy products’ just like ourselves, we nevertheless shouldn’t dismiss these findings because we probably are simply unaware of other moms and babies who have had to go through avoidable stresses all because of wrong pregnancy spacing.

So, based on the highlighted research suggestions, I will propose that  as much as is within our power, we should be sure to aim for anything between the 18 months and 5 years timeline or at least be sure that the interval between the birth of your last child (last live birth) and the beginning of your next pregnancy is nothing less than 12 months.

Also, even if by some chance you default on these timings, seek the right antenatal medical care that would take all the necessary precautions in watching out for both you and your babies

Now, some people may argue ‘for’ or ‘against’ the minimum and the maximum spacing. I would say that both sides of this coin have its advantages and disadvantages. So again, it’s all a matter of personal preference.

Advantages of minimum spacing

  • Everything (or at least most things) about pregnancy and motherhood will still be fairly fresh in your mind and you won’t feel too much like a first timer when the next baby arrives
  • Times would not have changed much, so you will be up-to-date with what’s best to try out with your new kid. For example; when it comes to nursery runs, you’ll be in the know of which nurseries are presently the best. Also when it comes to baby products, you’ll know which are taking the lead in terms of quality and price, etc.
  • You get to do all your mommy runs at a go, when you are still young and agile.  Then, when you are done, you’ll know you are done.
  • Everything wouldn’t necessarily have to be new. For example; the younger one can wear some of his older sibling’s T-shirts which were minimally used, your maternity bras and dresses will still be in good shape and style for re-use, etc.
  • Eventually, both siblings will learn to entertain one another, giving you more time to do other things. 
  • Your older kid is not deprived of having an in-house playmate and both kids have a higher chance of growing into close buddies.
  • You could enjoy some form of discounts that come with having closely spaced kids. For example, some schools offer school fees discount to younger siblings.
  • You and your husband get to close up the children raising chapter early enough and fully bounce back to ‘couple-only regime’.

Advantages of medium to maximum spacing

  • You get to mentally, financially and physically recover from all initial baby runs before diving into it again
  • You won’t have to go through the hurdles of looking after 2 ‘babies’ at the same time. Actually, at this age your older kid would have developed a substantial measure of responsibility and obedience and you may find him/her being very helpful in simple chores around the house as you look after the new baby.
  • Your older kid understands that he/she has a baby sibling and it will be heartwarming seeing him/her play the doting older sibling.
  • When your older kid is away at school, you get the chance at uninterrupted bonding with your new baby.
  • Since the older kid’s behavior should have been properly fine-tuned by you over the years, your new kid has ‘proper behavior’ open for imitation, and not just toddler tantrums and fussiness.
  • If you are a working mom, you get the chance to go back to work and make substantial, visible contributions before going on another ‘baby break’ again.

I’m sure you must have noticed I didn’t go into the disadvantages of either of the spacing types. This is because I don’t believe there is necessarily a wrong or right choice, so long as the choice works best, both financially and emotionally, for the families concerned.

However, USAID again reminds us that the healthy time for pregnancy in women is between the ages of 18 and 34. So in addition, your age and the number of kids you hope to have are other important factors you will be wise considering.

So, those are my own thoughts. What are yours on the issue of child spacing? From experience, what do you consider to be the advantages of closely or widely spaced child planning? Do share with us!

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