Health

Is it right for a woman to conceive every year?

It is important for every woman to space their children for a minimum of at-least 2 years, despite their financial status and preference. Women’s’ health is key! Newborns’ health is key!

Ms. Lilian Nuwabaine Luyima

A month ago while having a discussion with colleagues on the ladies’ WhatsApp group about child spacing, one of the ladies said “I am too old, I can’t wait much longer to give birth”; another lady said “you have a point, when you hit 30years, no time for child spacing, you just produce every year and you are done, even bazungu rarely space”; another one said “one year is enough, for as long as you start taking folic acid and calcium before conceiving, you are good to go”; another one said “ebya research tebinkwatako as-long as I have Jesus, He goes beyond rules of nature” and many other statements.

As a midwife and Women’s Health Specialist, and as an advocate for the well-being of women, such statements struck me hard. I wondered where exactly we are heading to as the world with such perceptions? Is it about being rich and one produces every year, or is it about preference and one conceives and produces every year or? What exactly is required to promote the health of women and their newborns?

Child spacing is where the parents have a period between births of their children. Optimal child spacing means: having children 2- 3 years apart. Another way to space the child without use of contraceptives is through exclusive breastfeeding and waiting at least 6 months after stopping breastfeeding before getting pregnant again. 

Child spacing, therefore, is important because:

  • A mother’s body needs time to recover fully from pregnancy and childbirth. She needs to regain her health, nutritional status and energy before she becomes pregnant again.
  • For the health of both mothers and children, a woman should wait until her last child is at least 2 years old before becoming pregnant again.

Optimal child spacing promotes child survival through having:

  • More time to breastfeed and care for your child.
  • More resources for child-care because of the interval between children e.g. you will have less school fees to pay, less clothes to buy, less food to buy, etc.
  • More time for the mother’s body to recover and prepare for the next pregnancy.
  • Feeding the baby only breast milk for the first 6 months helps to space births in a way that is healthy for you and your baby.

Dangers of failure to space children

  • The risk of death for newborns and infants increases significantly if the births are not spaced. There is a higher chance that the new baby will be born too early and weigh too little. Babies born underweight are less likely to grow well, more likely to become ill and four times more likely to die in the first year of life than babies of normal weight. 
  • One of the threats to the health and growth of a child under age 2 is the birth of a sibling. For the older child, breastfeeding may stop, and the mother has less time to prepare the foods and provide the care and attention the child needs

Therefore, it is important for every woman to space their children for a minimum of  at-least 2 years, despite their financial status and preference. Women’s’ health is key! Newborns’ health is key!

The author; Ms. Lilian Nuwabaine Luyima; is a BSc Nurse & MSN-Midwife & Women’s’ Health Specialist working with Aga Khan University as the CPD Coordinator & is the Heroes in Health Award Winner-Midwife of the year 2021

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