How Long to Wait Between Pregnancies?

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Guest Blogger, Dr Zeenobiyah McGowan Ph.D., is an expert on women's health and helping couples conceive naturally.  She is an editor for, also founded Impact Humanity, a charity which helps underprivileged children get the basic necessities like food and education in Kenya.

Family planning is a complicated issue with many variables to consider, so it is only natural to question just about everything. When it comes to time between pregnancies, there is one generally accepted minimum time period by most industry experts, and then there are personal factors to consider. 

Minimum time to wait between pregnancies

Because pregnancy takes a toll on the woman's body, experts recommend waiting a period of at least 18 months to two years between them. This will give the body enough time to heal, restore nutrients and build muscle between one pregnancy and another. This recommendation is in place for your health and for the health of your next child. Mothers who do not wait the recommended time between pregnancies are more likely to give birth prematurely or have a child with a low birth weight.

Maximum time to wait between pregnancies

The maximum time you can wait between pregnancies will depend on your personal health history and age. If you have your first child at 17, you may be able to wait another 17 years before you have another child. On the other hand, if you have your first child at 35, time is not on your side. Fertility declines with age, so you should start thinking about having another child within 18 months to two years, if you are planning to have another. If you are in your thirties and planning another pregnancy, you may want to involve your doctor in the decision of when to become pregnant again.

Considering age and health

Plenty of women conceive in a shorter time than 18 months and go on to have healthy pregnancies. This is not to say that you should throw the recommendation out the window, but you should consider all factors before coming to a final decision. If you have your first child late in life or if you are planning a large family, you could certainly expedite the process by having your children closer in age. But if you are considering having another child shortly after a pregnancy, you may want to talk to your doctor about any safety concerns he or she may have. It is always better to get things out in the open before it is too late. And, if you have had complications in a previous pregnancy, it is especially important to have this conversation with your doctor. There may be increased risks to becoming pregnant again so soon in your specific case.

Caring for children close in age

Getting pregnant within the first few months after giving birth can cause emotional and financial hardship for some families. Imagine potty training two toddlers back to back or breastfeeding at the same time. Imagine the sheer number of diaper changes you would have to endure. Diapers, formula, clothing – these are all expenses that can really add up when you multiply them by two or more (keep in mind that there is always a chance that your next pregnancy could be multiples).


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