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What’s the ‘right’ amount of time between pregnancies? It might be shorter than you think

When it comes to deciding when to try for another baby, there's no one right answer, but there are guidelines.

The World Health Organization previously recommended mothers wait 24 months between pregnancies in order to reduce risks associated with back-to-back births, but new research suggests that a shorter time frame—even just one year—can be enough space to reduce risks to mama and baby.

As America's moms are getting older, this news may come as a real relief to mothers over 35 who are keen to have close-in-age children but are also weighing the risks that come with advanced maternal age, like chromosomal anomalies and infertility. When you're dealing with those issues, 24 months between pregnancies can seem like a long time to wait.

Researchers with the University of British Columbia and the Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health looked at the outcomes of 148,544 pregnancies in Canada using data from birth records, hospitalization records, prescription data for infertility information and census records.

The study, recently published in JAMA Internal Medicine, found that getting pregnant less than 12 months after giving birth is linked with increased risks for women of all ages. The research suggests that for young moms short spacing between births can sometimes be due to unplanned pregnancies, but for moms over 35, closely-spaced pregnancies are often intentional.

In either case, the risks of spontaneous labor are reduced when pregnancies are at least a year apart.

The study found that women over 35 who conceived six months after a previous birth, have a 1.2% risk (12 cases per 1,000 pregnancies) of maternal mortality or severe morbidity, but when moms waited 18 months, the risk factor dropped to 0.5%(five cases per 1,000 pregnancies).

"Older mothers for the first time have excellent evidence to guide the spacing of their children," said the study's senior author, Dr. Wendy Norman in a UBC news release.

According to Norman, even waiting half of the previously recommended wait time will help mothers, without adding as much anxiety about the wait. "Achieving that optimal one-year interval should be doable for many women, and is clearly worthwhile to reduce complication risks," she explained.

A lot of parents dream of having children close in age and this study proves that it is possible, even for older mamas.

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A very important letter for new mamas

Listen, mom-guilt is a dirty liar. Yes, it's your job to fill your little human's needs, but you matter too. Don't forget to take care of yourself. Hang out with friends, take a drive blaring 90's hip hop or shower without interruptions—trust me, you'll be a better person (and mom) because of it.

Dear new mom,

You will shave again someday. Today is not that day.

Set expectations low, my friend, and set your partner's lower—at least where body hair and overall hygiene are concerned.

That conversation could go something like this: “From now on let's not consider shaving a “standard," but more like a gift that happens on birthdays and the first day of summer."

Voila, you are a gift-giving genius. You know what else is a gift? Shaving the inch and a half of skin that is between your skinny jeans and your boots. You're welcome world.

You will not be perfect at parenting.

Boom.

I have yet to meet a perfect mother, but when I do, she's going to be a tiger who is insanely good at making up songs. (Daniel Tiger's mom, we salute you.)

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Life

I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

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Life

A few years ago, while my wife's baby bump got bigger and my daddy reading list grew longer, I felt cautiously optimistic that this parenthood thing would, somehow, suddenly click one day. The baby would come, instincts would kick in, and the transition from established couple to a new family would be tiring but not baffling.

Boy was I wrong.

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Life