Key Practice: Spacing between pregnancies
Healthy for you and your baby
• Avoid unplanned pregnancies and ensure appropriate interval/spacing of children by using appropriate contraceptive methods.
Why is spacing between pregnancies important?
Child spacing is where the parents have a period between births of their children. Optimal child spacing means: having children 2- 3 years apart. Another way to space the child without use of contraceptives is through exclusive breast feeding and waiting at least 6 months after stopping breastfeeding before getting pregnant again. Child spacing therefore is important because:
- 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.
- 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.
Here are the benefits of spacing between pregnancies
Optimal child spacing promotes child survival through having:
- More time to breastfeed and care for your child.
- More resources for child care because of the interval between children e.g. you will have less school fees to pay, less clothes to buy, less food to buy, etc.
- More time for the mother’s body to recover and prepare for the next pregnancy.
- Feeding the baby only breast milk for the first 6 months helps to space births in a way that is healthy for you and your baby.
- 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.