Family planning is more than just deciding how many children you want. It involves understanding the physical, emotional, psychological, and financial impact of a pregnancy on the mother, parents, and rest of the family. One factor that significantly affects the overall health of the family is child spacing.
Earlier, the lack of effective contraception and inadequate research into the effects of child spacing meant unhealthy outcomes for the baby and the mother. Thankfully, the investment into maternal and family health has helped the community with some insights into what is the best interval between pregnancies. Let’s take a look:
What are the risks of close-spaced pregnancies?
A pregnancy that occurs within six months of childbirth can be termed as a closely-spaced pregnancy. Research indicates the following risks for the newborn:
- Low birth weight
- Congenital disorders
- Premature birth
- Placental disruption
- Increased risk of autism, especially if the baby is conceived within a year of its sibling’s birth.
For a mother, one of the most significant risks includes anaemia. Breastfeeding and the usual implications of pregnancy may also lead to depletion of nutrients, especially folate. Genital tract inflammation, which develops during pregnancy, can also lead to intense discomfort.
Through childbirth and post-delivery, a mother’s body goes through immense physical and hormonal changes. It takes about a few weeks to a few months for the mother to recuperate from the trauma of childbirth. Women’s reproductive health also needs to be ensured post-pregnancy.
A close pregnancy may leave a partially recuperated mother with few resources to cope and care for herself, her unborn child and the family. The stress of pregnancy can, in turn, bear implications on the unborn child.
An obvious question that emerges is whether pregnancies spaced too far apart can carry complications as well. Research suggests that such pregnancies carry an increased risk of preeclampsia.
Best interval between pregnancies
According to research, the best interval between pregnancies is 18-24 months, but less than five years from the previous childbirth. The couple may try getting pregnant earlier at 12 months to avoid complications such as infertility.
In case of a miscarriage, the right time to start trying again is whenever the to-be parents feel ready, and the mother’s body has physically recovered from the miscarriage.
Reaching out to prenatal, postnatal, maternal and newborn health services such as doctors, nurses, community health workers, counsellors can play a pivotal role in helping you make an informed decision.
Role of contraception in family planning
If you wish not to get pregnant, or want to wait till your next pregnancy, talk with your partner and discuss effective contraception options. One of the most effective options is contraceptive pills. However, it is crucial to consult your gynaecologist or doctor to understand the potential implications of using hormonal birth control on breastfeeding and possible side effects.
If you decide that contraceptive pills are the best alternative for you, a good choice is Mankind’s Unwanted -21, which is India’s No. 1 Contraceptive Tablet and readily available in the market. For emergency contraception, you can choose Mankind’s Unwanted-72. Consult your gynaecologist to understand the possible side effects of taking an emergency contraceptive as they will guide you best based on your past medical history.
Planning as a family
Family planning after delivery must happen as a family. Every member, especially the parents, must ensure that they have holistic resources, including physical and mental energy, to raise another child and to ensure their well-being. After all, a healthy family is a happy family.