Study suggests minimum of one year between pregnancies

Women should wait at least one year between giving birth and getting pregnant again to reduce health risks to both themselves and their children, according to a new study led by Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health and the University of British Columbia.

The study looked at data from 150,000 births in Canada and found that getting pregnant less than 12 months after giving birth was associated with risks for women for all ages. Although the current recommendation from the World Health Organization is for women to wait 18 months between pregnancies, the new study showed that a 12-month gap carries roughly the same risk.

In an October 30, 2018 BBC article, study co-author Sonia Hernandez-Diaz, professor of epidemiology at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said the findings emphasize the importance of postpartum contraception.

“Short pregnancy spacing might reflect unplanned pregnancies, particularly among young women,” she said. “Whether the elevated risks are due to our bodies not having time to recover if we conceive soon after delivering or to factors associated with unplanned pregnancies, like inadequate prenatal care, the recommendation might be the same: improve access to postpartum contraception, or abstain from unprotected sexual intercourse with a male partner following a birth.”

Read the BBC article: Pregnancy gap should be at least a year – researchers