ControverSunday: Child Spacing

by Ginger on March 30, 2010

in Mom Thoughts

Hey, look who’s late to the party again! That’s right, my ControverSunday post is once again a belated ControverTuesday. But here I am, better late than never. In case you’re new around here, ControverSunday is put on by our fabulous hostess Perpetua from Our Lady of Perpetual Breadcrumbs. Here, I’ll let her explain it a bit better:

Oh, you’re new?  Here’s how it works.  You write your post, leave a comment…to let us know you’re participating, and grab the badge from Accidents’ sidebar.  I’ll link you up under the badge below.  Simple as cookies, sweet as pie.

Simple, yes? We get to spout our opinions and some of us (cough *me* cough) get to pretend we’re as smart as our fellow participants. So! This week’s topic is child spacing. As in, how much time to put between any children you may have. You might not think there’s any controversy there, but leave it to our modern society to create one.

According to the New England Journal of Medicine (ooh, look at me doing actual research!) “there are healthier outcomes for both mom and baby when there is a gap of 18 – 23 months from birth to subsequent conception.”

The study showed an increase in low birth weight, small size for babies and an increase in prematurity when spacing was less than 18 months or greater than 23. The theory, as I understand it, has to do with how the mother’s body creates nutrition for the fetus. I could guess at part of it–another baby conceived before 18 months maybe wouldn’t receive optimal nutrition as the mother is still “recovering” from the previous pregnancy (that whole process is rather draining on a mom’s body). I don’t really understand where the problems from conception after 23 months would come in though…maybe the body reverts too much to the pre-pregnancy state by that time, so you’re out of practice being pregnant? I dunno.

Anyhow, so what does this mean in practice? Honestly, here in the western world, I’m not sure it means much. Well, let me rephrase. In the current North American medical approach to pregnancy, I’m not sure it means much, unless perhaps you are planning on having a pregnancy and birth completely untouched by the current medical establishment. So if you’re planning on having your next child at home, without any traditional medical attention throughout the course of your pregnancy and birth, you may need to heed the NEJM’s findings, but otherwise I don’t actually think it means a ton to the average mom. Birth weights in America are on the rise, and we’re so heavily monitored as pregnant women that I think planning your child around that time frame may not be as important as other considerations such as: money, career, disposition of the previous child, and, hell, your own thoughts on when you want to be pregnant again and the ever popular do you want 2 kids in diapers or not.

(look how I just spent 400 some odd words spouting off about something to come to the lame conclusion of: hey, no biggie!).

So what of our family? Prior to having Jackson, I thought I wanted my kids to be about a year apart. I’ll pause here for everyone to figure out the math, and then start laughing hysterically.

Because that would mean getting pregnant when I had a 3 MONTH OLD. Obviously, I was insane, naive, and ridiculously optimistic all at once. 

Now? My thoughts are less concrete. Given how much I didn’t enjoy pregnancy, I think I’d like to just get it all over with somewhat sooner rather than later. The idea of more than 3 years between my kids makes me a little twitchy, although I don’t know why. I also think (selfishly), I’d rather be a little younger when we end up with an empty nest, rather than dragging it out. But this all speaks only to OUR experiences. What of the kids?

My husband and I were both only children growing up (I have half-sisters who are 16 years younger than me, so while I’m not an only child now, for the growing up portion I was), so we have no personal experience with growing up with siblings to draw on. I know lots of people with siblings with age differences all over the place and whether they get along or don’t really seems more to do with personality and parental fairness (for lack of a better phrase) with time and attention than anything to do with time.

All that to say–I’m not sure. I think we’d strive for less than 3 years, but more than a year. How’s that for vague? But really, that’s planning enough for me. I said before I had Jackson that there’s never really a *perfect* time to have a baby, and I think that is even more true once you already have one. These kids, they defy planning and logic sometimes!

Check out more of the participants of ControverSunday here–they’re all smarter than me, and their posts prove it!

Our Lady of Perpetual Breadcrumbs

Altered Sky


Letter to Xander

Partial Disclosures

Accidents will happen.

Excellent Walker


Katherine March 30, 2010 at 9:44 pm

It would seem the post 23 month babies include the product of older women, thereby accounting for the smaller size and increased prematurity, so the spacing probably isn’t the key factor.

So long as you aren’t using the Duggers as an example, things will be fine.

Lorry March 30, 2010 at 10:36 pm

Interesting about the research. (I didn’t do any research, so you definitely look smarter. 😉 ) I didn’t quite make it to the 18-month separation, and here in Denmark, they don’t micromanage everything to the extent they do in the States. Well, I’ve never given birth in the States, but I know my sister-in-law saw her OB about 10 times more often than I saw everyone I saw put together, and I’m not sure I saw the same person more than twice. But I’m pretty sure everything will be fine anyway. 🙂

If it makes you feel better, I’d LOVE to have kids a year apart. If it weren’t for, you know, pregnancy, I’d be all over that like gravy on a biscuit. Unfortunately, hubs is not into the adoption idea. Ooooh well.

Breigh March 30, 2010 at 11:44 pm

I have no children as I failed miserably at trying to get pregnant but I find this quite an interesting subject. I have a cousin who is about to give birth in 2-3 months with her second. Her first was only 6 months old when she got pregnant again.
I think she’s lost her marbles. 😛

I know, irrelevant but that’s all I really had to add haha

Ally March 31, 2010 at 9:19 am

I have no plans to have kids, but my brother and I are three years apart and I think that was a pretty good age gap growing up — not too close, yet not too far.

My husband’s cousin’s daughters were born 12 months apart because she decided she wanted to get it all over with at once. Of course, her mother is essentially the nanny so that helps. They are really too close in age though. His cousin decided to hold them both back to start kindergarten at the same time because a teacher told her that the older one might not be ready.

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