Q: I'm 28 and have a 1-year-old son. I'd like to wait until he's in kindergarten before having another baby. Does this sound like a good plan?
A: In more than 100 years of observing women having children, physicians and medical researchers have noted that the natural timing between pregnancies for healthy women who are breastfeeding and not using birth control tends to be between 18 and 24 months. What's more, a 2006 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association concluded that spacing pregnancies less than 18 months or more than 59 months apart appears to be associated with a greater risk of problems such as preterm birth and low birth weight. As such, becoming pregnant shortly before your son's fifth birthday does sound like a good plan.
When considering the interval between pregnancies, couples should also consider family demands and time constraints, financial resources, and the emotional needs of their other children--and themselves as parents. Age is also a factor to keep in mind, as after age 35, women have reduced pregnancy rates, and after age 40, they experience increased pregnancy complications.