What is the ideal pregnancy gap?

What is the ideal gap between pregnancies? Ask a woman who’s just pushed a 9 pound baby out after a 10 hour labour and you’ll most likely be told it’s about a decade! Of course, those proclamations of “never again” have a tendency to fade away over time.

The ideal pregnancy gap

A new report from Harvard researchers has deduced that the ideal pregnancy gap – that is, the time between giving birth and conceiving again – is 12 to 24 months. The current recommendation from the World Health Organisation is that women wait 18 to 24 months after giving birth before trying to conceive again. The Harvard research studied around 148,000 pregnancies and indications are that the maternal health risks for women who conceive with a gap of 12-18 months are no greater than those who wait until the 18 month timescale.

This finding may be of reassurance to older women when weighing up the risks of increasing maternal age against optimal pregnancy gaps.

However, pregnancy gaps of less than 12 months still show a higher risk of premature births, smaller babies, and infant and mother mortality.

Preparing for conception

Before whipping out the ovulation calculators and fertility flowcharts, it’s a great idea to consider a few things that will give you the best chance of a complication-free pregnancy. Here’s some pre-conception tips:

  • Have a pre-conception checkup with your GP, nurse or fertility specialist
  • Ensure your pap smears are up to date
  • Review your prescription medication with your doctor
  • Pop into the dentist for a check-up
  • Reduce or cut out the alcohol and caffeine
  • Ensure your vaccinations are up to date
  • Read through our pre-pregnancy checklist

How long was the gap between your pregnancies, or how long do you plan to wait? Join the discussion in the comments below.

This article was written by Julie Scanlon, Editor for Kidspot NZ. Sources include JAMA Network.

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2 Comments

  1. Alezandra 03/11/2018 at 9:57 pm

    I’ve never really thought of gaps but I guess it’s something to consider especially for siblings. Good to have that pre-conception checklist. Cutting the caffeine is a hard one though but if it must be done.

  2. kymmage 02/11/2018 at 7:18 pm

    I have a 5 year gap. I had babysat for families with small gaps between children and found it very difficult. As a result I knew for me, 2 under 3 was not going to fly. 5 years has been great. One in daycare at a time. They are at very different stages but they get on really well too. Wouldn’t work for everyone, but it’s great for us.

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