CONCEIVING again too soon after having given birth can feel daunting for most women. Getting pregnant within a year or so may not feel risky, but it certainly increases the risk of anaemia and delivery related complications such as premature labour, stillbirth and even maternal deaths.
In a new study, researchers’ in a study of the implication of conceiving too soon on both mother and her baby say pregnancy again within a year of giving birth is associated more with anaemia in Nigeria.
The 2020 study looked at 271 pregnant women receiving antenatal care in a tertiary hospital in Nigeria to investigate the link between shorter pregnancy intervals and the risk of pregnancy complications. The researchers wanted to see if this link applied regardless of the time of getting pregnant. It was in the Nigerian Journal of Clinical Practice.
Researchers found that gaps of 12 months or less between pregnancies were linked with more cases of anaemia in these women. Other delivery-related complications such as premature labour/delivery, low birth weight of babies, bleeding after childbirth and preeclampsia were less in them compared with anaemia.
Dr Steven Lemadoro, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, stated that the changes that occur in pregnancy takes time to go back to normal, so often times, it is important for a woman to wait for the body to recover some of the losses the body suffers in the last pregnancy.
According to Dr Lemadoro, there is wisdom in women ensuring that their pregnancy is spaced by as much as two years or even more.
He added, “also, we advice that the interval between two pregnancies should not be up to five years. There is problem associated with this too. Once reasonable space is given, oftentimes, the body tends to recover and then does better in such pregnancies.”
In 2016, the analysis of studies involving more than 11 million women were published in the Journal of the American Medical Association said those infants born to women who conceived less than six months after giving birth had a 40 per cent increased risk of being born prematurely and a 61per cent increased risk of low birth weight, compared with infants born to mothers who waited for 18 months to two years between pregnancies.
Babies whose mothers had their previous child at least five years earlier had a 20 per cent to 43 per cent greater risk for being born prematurely, having a low birth weight, or being small for their gestational age.
Although the timing may not be everything, the analysis suggests that better pregnancy spacing could have a dramatic impact on neonatal complications and deaths worldwide.
The risk for preterm birth, low birth weight, and small size for gestational age increased by 1.9 per cent, 3.3per cent, and 1.5 per cent, respectively, each month that the time between pregnancies was shortened from 18 months.
Both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the March of Dimes recommend that couples wait at least a full year and ideally 18 months after having a baby before getting pregnant again.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) advises waiting at least six months or more after your last baby’s birth before getting pregnant again and cautions against the risks of pregnancy sooner than 18 months after the baby is born.
This is because conceiving within 18 months of giving birth increases the odds of some complications in the following pregnancy, including having a premature and/or low-birth-weight baby — especially if conception occurs within six months of birth. That can, in turn, increase the risk of a child having asthma, developmental delays and vision and hearing problems later in life.
Experts are not sure exactly why a shorter interval between pregnancies has been linked to these complications. It may be because there’s residual inflammation in the womb from the previous pregnancy, and because the body doesn’t have enough time to fully replenish the vitamins and nutrients required for the following pregnancy.
Nonetheless, how long to wait between pregnancies is dependent on the mode of delivery of the previous baby. For women with prior caesarean delivery, conceiving earlier than 24 months is associated with adverse maternal outcomes include; womb rupture, bleeding after childbirth and increased risk of blood transfusion. Womb rupture is a rare situation where the womb tears and could threaten the life of the mother and the unborn if medical aid isn’t given immediately.
Moreover, Mrs Akinso said that encouraging breastfeeding and improving access to birth control increase the time between pregnancies.
Breastfeeding is a natural, although not an infallible form of birth control. So women who follow recommendations to breastfeed exclusively for at least the first six months of her baby’s life would be both optimising the nutrition for the baby as well as lowering the risk of having an adverse pregnancy outcome with the next pregnancy.
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