Are there risks associated with spacing pregnancies too far apart?
Some research also suggests that long intervals between pregnancies pose concerns for mothers and babies. A pregnancy five years or more after giving birth is associated with an increased risk of high blood pressure and signs of damage to another organ system, often the kidneys (preeclampsia).
It's not clear why long pregnancy intervals might cause health problems. It's possible that pregnancy improves uterine capacity to promote fetal growth and support, but that over time these beneficial physiological changes disappear. Unmeasured factors, such as maternal illnesses, might play a role too.
What's the best interval between pregnancies?
To reduce the risk of pregnancy complications and other health problems, research suggests waiting 18 to 24 months but less than five years after a live birth before attempting your next pregnancy. Balancing concerns about infertility, women older than 35 might consider waiting 12 months before becoming pregnant again.
The risks and recommendations don't apply to couples who have had a miscarriage. If you're healthy and feel ready, there might be no need to wait to conceive after miscarriage.
Choosing when to have another baby is a personal decision. When planning your next pregnancy, you and your partner might consider various factors in addition to the health risks and benefits. Until you make a decision about when to have another child, use a reliable method of birth control.
What else do I need to know about pregnancy spacing?
There's no perfect time to have another baby. Even with careful planning, you can't always control when conception happens. However, understanding the risks associated with timing your pregnancies too close together or too far apart can help you make an informed decision about when to grow your family.
Feb. 25, 2017
See more In-depth
- Report of a WHO technical consultation on birth spacing. World Health Organization. http://www.who.int/maternal_child_adolescent/documents/birth_spacing05/en/. Accessed Jan. 12, 2017.
- Cheslack-Postava K, et al. Closely spaced pregnancies are associated with increased odds of autism in California sibling births. Pediatrics. 2011;127:246.
- Shachar BZ, et al. Interpregnancy interval and obstetrical complications. http://www.uptodate.com/home. Accessed Jan. 12, 2017.
- DeFranco EA, et al. Influence of interpregnancy interval on neonatal morbidity. American Journal of Obstetrics & Gynecology. 2015;212:386.
- Zerbo O, et al. Interpregnancy interval and risk of autism spectrum disorders. Pediatrics. 2015;136:1.
- Conde-Agudelo A, et al. Birth spacing and risk of adverse perinatal outcomes: A meta-analysis. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2006;295:1809.
- Ball SJ, et al. Re-evaluation of link between interpregnancy interval and adverse birth outcomes: Retrospective cohort study matching two intervals per mother. BMJ. 2014;349:4333.