Birth Spacing and Family Planning
Do I want another baby? When is the right time?
Deciding when to have your next baby is an extremely personal choice. Some families know they don’t want any more children, for other families want another child right away. Even more, families want the choice to wait and decide later. Whatever the best decision is for your family, your midwives can advise you medically on what is recommended for your specific health care plan.
Ideal birth spacing recommendations focus on the need for recovery from pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding, all of which are physically and mentally draining. If a birthing parent is not fully recovered from a previous pregnancy, an increase is seen in risks for the next baby and birthing parent. Also of note, with each subsequent pregnancy, there are older children who require care. Caring for older children adds extra strain on the pregnant client’s body throughout pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding. Regardless of your type of family plan, you can find many options below to help you achieve your ideal birth spacing goals.
- Ideal birth spacing after vaginal birth: Recent research has shown that the optimal interpregnancy interval (time not pregnant) is between 12 to 24 months (Schummers et al. 2018). An interpregnancy interval shorter than 12 months has been associated with increased risks to the birthing client, fetus, and newborn baby (Schummers et al. 2018).
- Ideal birth spacing after c-section: Recent research has shown that the optimal interpregnancy interval (time not pregnant) is between 18 to 24 months. An interpregnancy interval shorter than 18 months has been associated with an increased risk of uterine rupture (ACOG 2021).
To help achieve ideal birth spacing many contraceptive options exist. Unfortunately, providing contraception is outside the scope of most midwives, thus you will have to ask your family doctor for your preferred contraception method. Options for contraception in Canada include the following (all are methods of temporary/reversible contraception):
- Oral contraceptive pill
- Contraceptive patch
- Vaginal Ring
- Intrauterine contraception (IUD)
- Injectable contraception
- Contraceptive implant
For more details on each contraception method see SOGC contraception details.
For clients who do not want to have any more children, and want a permanent solution, the following are available:
- Vasectomy (for male partners): is the surgical cutting of the vas deferens, preventing the release of sperm (permanently preventing any further pregnancies. Vasectomy is covered by OHIP.
Mayo Clinic 2023
- Tubal Ligation (for clients): is the surgical tying, cutting, or blocking of the fallopian tubes preventing the egg from becoming fertilized, permanently preventing pregnancy. Tubal ligation is covered by OHIP.
Mayo Clinic 2023
Cleveland Clinic 2021
Please see the additional resources below for more information and ask your midwife if you have any questions.
- Schummers et al (2021): Short Interpregnancy Interval
- ACOG: Interpregnancy Care
- RCOG: Birth after previous C-sections
- Health Canada: Preconception Care
- SOGC: Contraception methods detailed
- SOGC: Vasectomy
- Mayo Clinic: Vasectomy
- SOGC: Tubal Ligation
- Mayo Clinic: Tubal Ligation
- Cleveland Clinic: Tubal Ligation