Women may not need to wait as long as previously thought between pregnancies, study finds

Photo (c) AleksandarNakic - Getty Images

Experts are challenging longstanding beliefs on the topic

A new study conducted by researchers from Curtin University explored just how long women should wait to conceive again after pregnancy

Though many experts recommend that women wait between 18 months and two years to get pregnant again, their findings showed that the risk of complications was nearly identical when women were pregnant again within six months versus two years. 

“We compared approximately 3 million births from 1.2 million women with at least three children and discovered the risk of adverse birth outcomes after an interpregnancy interval of less than six months was no greater than for those born after an 18-23 month interval,” said researcher Dr. Gizachew Tessama. “Given that current recommendations on birth spacing is for a waiting time of at least 18 months to two years after live births, our findings are reassuring for families who conceive sooner than this.” 

Having safe and healthy pregnancies

For the study, the researchers tracked pregnancies and birth outcomes from women from the U.S., Australia, Finland, and Norway. More than 5.5 million women were involved in the study, and they collectively birthed more than 3.8 million babies. The researchers kept a record of the time in between their pregnancies and the safety of their pregnancies and deliveries. 

Ultimately, the team observed no significant differences between women who waited the recommended 18-24 months versus those who got pregnant much sooner. In terms of infants’ birth weight and preterm delivery, women who got pregnant again within six months had similar outcomes to women who waited more than a year. 

However, when women waited fewer than six months between pregnancies, there was an increased risk of spontaneous preterm birth. However, there was a higher risk for complications at birth when women waited longer than five years between pregnancies. 

Moving forward, the researchers plan to see if women’s ages play a role in the interval between pregnancies and any related complications. In the meantime, they hope these findings offer some comfort for consumers that have had successive pregnancies over shorter periods of time. 

Take a Home Warranty Quiz. Get matched with an Authorized Partner.