Family Planning - Timing between pregnancies

The minimum time a couple should leave between pregnancies is set by the period of time the baby is breastfed. Breastfeeding and pregnancy tax the mother's and the fetus's health. It is recommended that any mother who is breastfeeding a child, and is pregnant, wean the child.

For the recovery of the physical health of the mother, two years is the average recommended wait. This puts the children almost three years apart in age.

The length of time between children should take into consideration the age and health of the parents, the number of children the couple wants, and the difficulty they have in conceiving. For a couple that suffers through a miscarriage for every successful pregnancy, a long wait may not be recommended. It should also be noted here, though, that a good gynecologist/obstetrician will be able to recommend what is in the mother's best health interest in spacing of pregnancies. For any couple that experiences difficulties with pregnancies, a doctor's advice on their particular situation should be the primary source of information.

Once physical considerations are understood, it becomes a matter of personal priority for the parents. Some parents prefer to wait until one child is in school, or at least out of diapers, before having another child. Having two toddlers can be quite trying on a parent's energy and patience. For first-time parents, having children close in age may help in arranging the parents’ schedule around the children. The problems of arranging for day care may only be extended a year or two if the children are close in age. For children five years apart, working parents have at least one child in day care for ten years. For more discussion on child care and day care, see the end of this chapter.

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