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Child Spacing & Family Planning

Alison Wood |27, November 2012


"So, when are you going to have another one?" an inquisitive onlooker asks you.

"Hmm, I don't know," you answer, "I haven't really had time to think about it. I have been so busy enjoying this baby."

Undoubtedly this will not be the first time someone will ask the question -- whether or not it is any of her business. However, it is a pertinent issue to consider. All families have different needs and goals in their lives. These particular goals and present needs aid in shaping your decision for future babies and just how far apart in age your children should be.

Doctors typically recommend, for the health of the mother, that children are spaced two years apart. This gives your body time to readjust and recover from the previous pregnancy.

"Typically, my kids are two years apart in age. I like this pattern. My body has time to recover and the siblings are close in age and play well together," says one mom.

Children that are close in age do relate better. They are able to attend the same school and are interested in activities geared towards their age level. It is difficult for a grade-schooler to understand why his older brother wants to begin dating girls. But he can definitely relate to his sister that is two years older than him in her love for Happy Meals from McDonalds. Toys and ice cream are much better than girls in his elementary world!
In contrast, there are definitely some pros for having children spaced further apart than three years.

"My two boys have a large age gap between them," says one mother, "but they never fight or fuss. My older son helps my younger son with everyday tasks like getting dressed, pouring drinks, etc. The older child also enjoys watching the younger gain interest in boy things, like trucks, cars and football. They have a great relationship in those areas."

A larger gap between children tends to produce brothers and sisters that enjoy each other and rarely have a skirmish. They do not fight over the same toys, because their interests are different. Naturally, the younger child respects and minds his older sibling. This "chain-of-command" helps the home run more efficiently.

urthermore, schedules for the two brothers or sisters may differ greatly and present little time for conflict.
Another positive result of a larger gap between children is that the mother will have more time to devote to the younger one's constant needs. Diaper changes, nursing or bottle-feeding, baby check-ups, potty-training, etc., will be less rushed as she does not have several young children needing her immediate attention. Older children still need guidance and parental involvement, but in a different way. The parental involvement with older children tends to be less time-consuming and can free up the mother's time for more focused parenting with the younger child.

As for mothers, having several children close in age has some benefits and disadvantages. Nature has taught us that our best health, strength and agility comes in our younger years of life. A woman's most prime childbearing years are ages 20 to 35. Not only is this best for fertility and pregnancy, but also for motherhood. It takes a lot of energy to keep up with a toddler. It takes time and consistent training to produce good attitudes and other favorable characteristics in a child. It takes lots of stamina to surrender sleep night after night to nurse a young infant. Motherhood can be physically exhausting. The younger the mother, the better the chance she has in succeeding in the physically taxing days of mommy-hood. There are some exceptions to this law of nature. Some people are physically active, consume extremely healthy diets and have better health at age 35 than many 20 year-olds. However, that is not typically the case.

If a mother has several pregnancies within a short period of time, her health could be compromised. Pregnancies that are 12 months apart or less can result in anemia, high blood pressure, placental and uterine problems. The mother has had very little time for her body to recover from the trauma of pregnancy and delivery. Again, for the health of the mother, doctors recommend at least two years between each child.

Each child is a gift and a blessing. If yours comes before the recommended spacing of pregnancy, do not fret. Only take joy that another life has formed within your womb and you get to experience another child's love and devotion. Maybe you can space the next one a little farther apart to give your body some time to rest. And, as always, give yourself and your bambino the best start with healthy prenatal checkups, vitamins, exercise and rest. Whatever your child-spacing schedule, focus on the happiness of motherhood and your gift of fertility!

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