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Why Waiting at Least 18 Months Between Pregnancies Is Important

Expecting family
Women in the U.S. typically wait about two and a half years before getting pregnant again, but nearly 30 percent are getting pregnant within 18 months of their last pregnancy, which is not recommended by health professionals.

This information comes from a new study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Data was collected from a number of birth certificates, which accounted for approximately 83 percent of the births in 2011.

Instead, experts say the ideal length of time is to wait at least 18 months (and no more than 60 months) before the next pregnancy so that a mother's body has time to recover from the physical stress of giving birth. The chances for having a preterm baby and a baby with low birth weight also increase when there is a shorter period between pregnancies.

Related: Raising Two Kids Under Two

About 20 percent of women had babies more than five years apart. Oftentimes,though, this age gap between children was due to the mothers' own age. "The older the mom was, the longer the spacing between a birth and her next pregnancy," reports ABC News. But waiting too long, about five or more years, to become pregnant again can also increase health risks (such as preeclampsia) for mothers and babies.

If you're hoping to get pregnant for the second time, it's important to know that it's likely your second pregnancy will be different than your first. And if you're feeling anxious, no need to worry—your second-pregnancy fears can always be addressed with your doctor.

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Caitlin St John is an Editorial Assistant for Parents.com who splits her time between New York City and her hometown on Long Island. She's a self-proclaimed foodie who loves dancing and anything to do with her baby nephew. Follow her on Twitter: @CAITYstjohn

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Image: Expecting family via Shutterstock