What exactly is the ideal amount of time to space your children? Find out!

Woman breastfeeding while pregnant

Congratulations! The pregnancy test confirms what you suspected — a new baby is on the way. You’re excited but can’t help wondering about your toddler, who is breastfeeding. Yes, he’s eating solid foods and enjoys his sippy cup, but you know breastfeeding is still a big deal to him. What now? Can you keep breastfeeding even though you are pregnant, and what happens once the new baby is born?

In most cases, you can continue to breastfeed while pregnant, and many women go on to nurse both their toddler and new baby after the birth. It’s not always easy, though.

That brings me to the question, what exactly is the ideal amount of time to space your children? Well, that I think should depend on the following factors.

Your Health

When babies are born “back to back” there isn’t enough time for the mother’s body and mind to recover especially where there have been postpartum issues. However, what many do not realize is that mothers who wait too long for the next pregnancy are more likely to have preeclampsia or eclampsia. It's advised that if one has had high-risk pregnancies in the past (C-sections, high blood pressure) it may be wise to wait at least two years before trying to conceive again.
Babies Health

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on the ideal waiting period for the physical health of the infant suggests that parents should wait 18 to 23 months after a full-term birth before conceiving again. Where the interval between pregnancies is a few months the incidence of having a low-weight baby increases, and where it is up to 10 years the likelihood of having a pre-term or low weight baby is also quite high.

Your Career

A lady who has put her career on hold may decide to have her kids close to each other so that they can grow together, get a little independent and she can return to work. Alternatively, a stay-at-home mum may be in no hurry to go through the childbearing years.

Your Support System

It is often said it takes “a village to raise a child’ and having a sound support system of family and friends could influence our decision on how to space our children. For instance, in the old days it was common for “grandma” to live with her children, so young mothers could have children one after the other knowing that “grandma” would help raise them. Nowadays, most “grandmas” are so busy with their own lives and may not have as much time to help with the grandchildren. Also, getting good help is hard to find but if you’re lucky to have your parents in the same town this may influence your decision on how to space your children.
Your Capability

The only person who knows when you are ready is you, not your mother or in-laws, not your employers, you. When deciding to become pregnant again, a mother should access her overall physical stamina. Only a mother knows whether her body is well and strong enough to care for two or more young children at the same time.

If the interval is very close it may feel like having twins, but if there is a range e.g. 3 years will provide an opportunity for the mother to catch her breath. Personally, I enjoyed having two children under the age of two, they played with each other and it was easy taking care of them both as they had similar needs. On the other hand, now that my youngest is five I would have to readjust if I had a baby now. Though it was tough at first now that they are older I am enjoying the benefits.

Your Finances

Raising children can be challenging and the attached costs of providing for your bundle of joy can be alarming. We have heard of many fathers abandoning their spouses on learning of the delivery of multiples. As a parent, you are responsible for your child's well-being and it is easier and more affordable to raise children when they have been adequately spaced.

Your Age

In the first sleep-deprived weeks after the arrival of a new baby, planning the next bundle of joy is the furthest thing from a mother’s mind. Alas, when age isn’t on your side, the pain of labor and the cries of a new baby fade, and it may just be time to start creating another miracle. In other cases, a woman in her twenties may decide to have babies at short intervals and spring back, while a woman who is in her late thirties may want to spice things a little.

The way a woman feels about child spacing before she becomes a mother is not necessarily the way she will feel once the baby actually arrives. And no matter how carefully a mother plans the spacing of her children, Mother Nature may have other plans in store. Nursing mothers are usually unable to conceive for the first six months of nursing, as some women don’t ovulate when breastfeeding.

At the end of the day, every circumstance is unique and the decision of when to have each child is one to be agreed on by the parents in close consultation with their health professional.
Geoffrey Nevine — IT Services and IT Consulting

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