Deciding when to have the second (or third) child can often feel more complicated than having the first.
Maybe you want to have your kids close together so you get through all those diapers at once and they grow up close in age. Or maybe you’d like a nice long gap in between — a chance to recover from those infant and toddler years before you begin again.
The choice can be even more complicated for women over age 35, who may feel the need to balance the risks associated with age with the risks of having pregnancies too close together.
A new study detailed in BBC News looked at the risks to mothers and babies related to age and length of time between pregnancies. Its findings suggests that 12-18 months between birth and a new pregnancy is enough time to sufficiently reduce health risks. That’s close to — but slightly sooner than — the World Health Organization's recommendation of 18-24 months.
Senior study author Dr Wendy Norman said it was “encouraging news” for women over 35 who were planning their families.
“Older mothers for the first time have excellent evidence to guide the spacing of their children,” she said.
“Achieving that optimal one-year interval should be doable for many women and is clearly worthwhile to reduce complication risks.”
The study, which followed nearly 150,000 pregnancies in Canada, also found that pregnancy intervals of fewer than 12 months appear to be associated with adverse outcomes for women of all ages.
The type of risk differs by age group, though. Maternal risks may be higher for women over age 35, whereas fetal and infant risks are greater for women aged 20-34.