A new-born brings parents a lot of joy. Sure, there is a lot of work taking care of the baby and it is definitely tiring, but many people want a second one as soon as possible. Scientists from the University of British Columbia and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health say that there is no need to rush – at least one year between pregnancies reduces risks for mother and baby.
There are many reasons why people want to have a second baby as soon as possible. Taking care of one baby is difficult, but having two is not double the trouble. When babies come close together in the timeline, parents can come back and work uninterrupted. Finally, older women feel that their biological clock is ticking and they should have all their babies as soon as possible. However, scientists say that the risk for mother is greater when she is 35 or older and decides to become pregnant without waiting for at least a year.
Interestingly, the risk for the infant wasn’t so much dependent on mother’s age, but was greatest for women between the ages of 20-34. In general, scientists say that it is better to just wait at least 12 months before getting pregnant again after giving birth. Even if the risks are very low, it is better to minimize them even more.
Scientists analysed data about 148,544 pregnancies in British Columbia. They found that the risk of maternal mortality or severe morbidity was around 1.2 % for women over 35, who became pregnant within 6 months after giving birth. The same factor was just 0.5 % in women who waited for 18 months or more. The risk of pre-term birth was also higher if the gap between pregnancies was smaller – 3.4 % compared to 6. The risk of pre-term birth was also greater between younger women who did not wait long enough before conceiving – 8.5 % to 3.7, comparing 6 month and 18 month intervals.
And so it is a safer bet to just wait a little longer before getting pregnant again, but scientists don’t know why that is. Dr. Sonia Hernandez-Diaz, one of the authors of the study, said: “Whether the elevated risks are due to our bodies not having time to recover if we conceive soon after delivering or to factors associated with unplanned pregnancies, like inadequate prenatal care, the recommendation might be the same: improve access to postpartum contraception, or abstain from unprotected sexual intercourse with a male partner following a birth”.
Raising a child is a huge responsibility and a gift to the world. But parents should take good care of themselves too. Mothers should wait for at least a year to reduce potential risks to themselves and their babies.