"Spacing" Is Best to Ensure Optimum Health for Mother and Baby
Published by Contra Costa Times
Posted on Fri., Sept. 07, 2007
By Francie Wise, RN, MPH
HOW LONG should a mother wait to have another child? This is a common question we get from parents, and an important one.
The answer is that moms and their babies are both healthier if there is at least two years between the birth of the baby and the mom"s next pregnancy.
We refer to this as healthy "birth spacing" and Contra Costa Health Services - the county"s health department - has started an educational program to spread the word about the importance of waiting at least two years between pregnancies.
Our data show that in almost one in five Contra Costa women are having children closer together than two years, which puts both mother and child at risk for problems.
Of course, we recognize that women who are older than 35 and want multiple children may not have the option of waiting.
What are some of the possible problems of short birth spacing (less than 24 months) for the baby?
What are some of the possible problems of short birth spacing for the mother?
Why can short birth spacing cause problems?
Poor nutrition contributes to problems associated with not waiting between births.
Every pregnant woman should eat a healthy diet so that she and her baby get the nutrients (protein, vitamins, carbohydrates and minerals) they need. This helps the mom to stay healthy and the baby to grow and develop normally.
Nutrition is also very important before and after pregnancy. It takes time to replace these nutrient stores, and that is why it is important to allow enough time between pregnancies.
Vitamin B (folic acid) is particularly important for good health and can help prevent some birth defects. Women need folic acid throughout life, especially before and during pregnancy. (Visit http://www.cdc.gov and search for folic acid.)
What are the benefits of healthy birth spacing?
For more information on healthy birth spacing or prenatal care, visit the CCHS Web site at http://www.cchealth.org/topics/birth_spacing/.
Wise is director of public health nursing for Contra Costa Health Services. Healthy Outlook is written by the professional staff of Contra Costa Health Services, the county health department. Send questions to series coordinator Dr. David Pepper at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more health information, go to www.cchealth.org.