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Facts for Life

Timing Births

Supporting Information


For the health of both mothers and children, a woman should wait until her last child is at least 2 years old before becoming pregnant again.

The risk of death for newborns and infants increases significantly if the births are not spaced. There is a higher chance that the new baby will be born too early and weigh too little. Babies born underweight are less likely to grow well, more likely to become ill and four times more likely to die in the first year of life than babies of normal weight.

One of the threats to the health and growth of a child under age 2 is the birth of a sibling. For the older child, breastfeeding may stop, and the mother has less time to prepare the foods and provide the care and attention the child needs.

Whenever a new baby comes into the family, it is important for the father to help the mother with the new baby and the other children. Both mothers and fathers and other caregivers should give equal attention and care to both girls and boys.

A mother's body needs time to recover fully from pregnancy and childbirth. She needs to regain her health, nutritional status and energy before she becomes pregnant again.

If a woman has a miscarriage or abortion, she should wait at least six months before becoming pregnant again in order to reduce the risk to herself and her baby.

To protect the health of their families, men as well as women need to be aware of the importance of (1) a two-year space between the birth of the last child and the beginning of the next pregnancy and (2) the need to limit the number of pregnancies.