Are You Waiting Long Enough Between Pregnancies?

pregnant woman with toddler. Michael Poehlman/Photographer's Choice/Getty Images

All of my children are almost exactly two years apart. My daughters are even within two days of each other.

For some reason, I always knew that I wanted my children spaced relatively close in age and for us, having four children exactly two years part has worked out really well. I feel like I haven't had as much time to "slow down" and enjoy them as much as I would have wanted, but it's also been really great to see them develop such close bonds together--which I hope will last a lifetime.

Plus, let's face it, it's kind of nice to know that after back-to-back pregnancies, I could have a nice little break to work on my fitness goals again, right?

Many women I know seem to aim for the two-year interval and in a lot of ways, it's a natural result of breastfeeding too, as a woman's cycle returns back to a fertile state when a baby naturally weans. Of course, it's different for everyone, but without fail, as soon as my kids weaned around 12-15 months, I found myself thinking about the next baby. 

And while most of us assume that having children and how we space them is completely a personal decision, or in a lot of cases, simply not up to us, with infertility or perhaps unexpected pregnancies popping up along the way, for the first time, a widespread study by the CDC set out to determine if the trends for timeframes for women to space their pregnancies. Some of the study's findings included:

  • 1/3 of all births in the United States were within the 18 month threshold, which experts agree poses risks, including for premature labor. 
  • The age spacing between women's children increased with the mother's age.  
  • Mothers aged 25-34 had the most second and third births (which seems kind of like duh findings, but nonetheless, there you have it).
  • Overall, the median time between births was just over 29 months. 
  • Non-Hispanic white women had the shortest interval between pregnancies, at 26 months. (Hand raised here.)
  • Non-Hispanic black women had averages of 30 months between pregnancies. 
  • Hispanic women had the greatest length between pregnancies, at 36 months, although this varied based on location across the country. 

The study concluded that both long and short pregnancy intervals (the space in between pregnancies) were"associated with poor outcomes for both the mother and baby. For example, a study by the British Medical Journal in 2014 found that pregnancies that occurred in less than 18 months increased the risk of premature labor. The highest risk of premature labor (over 50%) occurred with births that happened within 12 months of each other and in black women. 

So what does all of this mean to you? If you are the mother of a baby and hoping to add to your family soon, be sure to consult with your doctor on what may be the optimum spacing between pregnancies for you.

Many different factors, such as risk of premature labor or postpartum depression, should be considered to help you determine your "idea" pregnancy interval. 

How far apart are your children? 


Copen. C. et. al. Interpregnancy Intervals in the United States: Data From the Birth Certificate and the National Survey of Family Growth. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. April 16, 2015. Accessed online April 21, 2015: 

Short intervals between pregnancies increase the risk of preterm birth. British Medical Journal. (June 4, 2014). Accessed online April 21, 2014:



Continue Reading