Study suggests many women not giving their body enough time off between pregnancies

Posted at 4:59 PM, Apr 17, 2015
and last updated 2015-04-17 18:59:04-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Women aren't giving their bodies enough time in between the birth of a child and having another baby, according to a recent study conducted by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Doctors say women typically wait 2.5 years between pregnancies, but a new study is showing a different trend.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention took a look at 2011 birth certificate data from 36 states, including Utah. Researchers learned that 29.6  percent of women who had a child became pregnant again in less than 18 months.

Other findings focused on race and age:

  • White women had the shortest overall birth intervals at 26 months
  • Black women had an overall birth interval of 30 months
  • Hispanic women had an overall birth interval of 34 months
  • When it comes to age, more than two-thirds of teenagers had short intervals compared to older women, who tended to have more time between births

Doctors at LDS Hospital worry that women are putting themselves at risk by having babies too soon after giving birth.

"Statistically, there is a higher risk of a number of different pregnancy complications, like prematurity or low birth weight, problems like that,” said Douglas Richards, who is a doctor specializing in maternal and fetal medicine.

Experts said women need to give their body time to heal in between pregnancies, especially if they have undergone a C-section.

"Another group of women that we really strongly emphasize waiting is women who've had a cesarean and hope to have a vaginal birth with the next pregnancy,” Richards said. "There is more chance for the scar in the uterus to get strong, so there's a lower risk of rupture in the uterus if they try a vaginal birth."

Using the time to heal physically, and emotionally, can give babies much-needed one-on-one time with mom.

"If she's having a difficult time coping with new babies, it takes some time for her to get used to that and get the children to an age where she feels psychologically and emotionally, and as far as the family dynamic is concerned, she is ready to bring another child into the family,” Richards said.

Click here to view the complete study. (The study may open in a new window or begin downloading as a PDF, depending on your web browser and settings.)