Over the decades, multiple stakeholders such as governments, NGOs, women health care workers, child welfare workers, nutritionists, researchers, and medical professionals have banded together to identify strategies to improve health outcomes for new mothers and new-borns. One of the most effective factors identified by them to ensure healthier outcomes for the mother and child is ‘birth spacing’.
Birth spacing refers to the time period that a woman should wait to become pregnant after her previous delivery.
Ideal birth spacing & risks of close spaced pregnancies
Researchers have identified 18-24 months but not more than 5 years, as the ideal interval between pregnancies to prevent adverse health outcomes for the mother and child.
A close spaced pregnancy may lead to premature birth and lower birth weight for the new-born. There is also an increased likelihood of placental abruption which can lead to the baby not receiving oxygen or nutrients. It also increases the risks for congenital diseases and schizophrenia. Research also indicates a higher chance of the second child being born with autism when the pregnancy happens within 12 months of each other.
For a mother, it may not allow her to completely recover from the physiological and psychological upheaval caused by childbirth. A close pregnancy may also lead to maternal anaemia, and prevent her from replenishing her nutrients which significantly deplete due to childbirth and breastfeeding.
Benefits of Birth Spacing for mothers
It won’t be untrue to say that a woman’s body and mind go through unimaginable pain and discomfort during childbirth. Waiting at least a year and a half before trying to get pregnant again has profound benefits for the mother:
- The mother gets the time to physically recover from giving birth. Whether it is a vaginal delivery or C-sec, the woman’s body needs rest to recover.
- Breastfeeding and the post-childbirth period can deplete the mother’s nutrients. Child spacing gives the mother a chance to replenish her resources and regain her strength.
- Apart from childbirth, the nine months of pregnancy also change a woman’s body. Adequate birth spacing allows the woman an opportunity to get her body back in the way she desires without having to worry about the physical effects brought on by another pregnancy.
- Postpartum mood and anxiety problems are a real and well-researched concern for the mother. The hormonal flux coupled with the demands of caregiving can cause distress for the new mother. Birth spacing allows the mother to adjust to her role of a caregiver before she embarks on the journey of being a mother to a new-born again.
- The World Health Organisation recommends that the new-born be breastfed for up to 2 years after birth. This gives the mother and child the opportunity to bond as well as provide the child with the strength to fight off infections. Birth spacing ensures that the mother can provide adequate breastfeeding and bond with the child.
The advantages of child spacing for the mother ensure her holistic well-being and that of her child/children. Hence, it is best that to engage in fruitful family planning before and after the first delivery and at important milestones.
Birth spacing and contraception
An important part of family planning is choosing the appropriate contraception. So far, contraceptive pills such as Mankind’s Unwanted -21 are one of the safest and most effective birth control methods. Consult a doctor you trust and decide on the most suitable contraception based on your lifestyle, health history, and preferences. Emergency contraceptives such as Mankind’s Unwanted-72 can also be used, although it is not recommended as the go-to contraception. Investing in India’s No. 1 Contraceptive Tablet such as Mankind’s Unwanted-21 will ensure that the mother can benefit from the advantages of birth spacing.
Plan smart, ensure the well-being of the mother and consequently, the family.