Wednesday, January 19, 2022

Making child spacing decisions

Everyone may have a different reason for why they would like their children the distance apart that they do, and some prefer timings that go directly against medical advice though socially accepted.

But experts seem to express concern that looking after a baby while one is pregnant can be both emotionally and physically unhealthy.

“A woman’s body needs to recover from a pregnancy before it can jump to the next one,” says Maria Letshwiti, Family Planning Nurse at Phase 2 Clinic. She says chances are extremely high that iron and calcium stores may not be fully replenished if babies follow each other closely in birth.

Letshwiti advises an ideal spacing of at least 18 months between babies. Lesego Moitsadi is a 30-year-old pregnant woman who uses the same clinic for ante-natal care. She is on her second pregnancy. Her first child was born in August last year.

Not long after she had had her first born, her husband started bringing up the topic of a second baby.

“One of his biggest priorities was giving his children what he didn’t have growing up. And as an only child he was eager to get going with the sibling project,” says Moitsadi.

Totally gobsmacked by the realities of child-rearing, Moitsadi and felt she simply was not ready though she must go through the experience of pregnancy, labour and infant care again so soon.
“When I realised our annual expenditure for pre-school and childcare in Gaborone I was even more convinced that waiting a while to expand our brood would have been prudent,” she says.
Letshwiti says in Moitsadi’s case, since the clock can never be turned back, the only advice is on how to cope and make the best out of her situation. She says even if the toddler was excited about having a new sibling before the birth, he is more likely to change his mind once the baby comes home.

“How her toddler behaves will depend a lot on his temperament. But since he’s a baby himself he may not be as flexible or self-contained and it will take longer than an older sibling to adjust. He will be highly sensitive and simply need more time with transitions,” says Letshwiti.

She says Moitsadi’s toddler is still so accustomed to being mummy’s baby and having to grow up before the time to accommodate a new born will be a daunting experience for him.

“It’s normal for a toddler to feel a range of feelings about this new change in his family. After all, he suddenly has to share his mother with someone who requires an extraordinary amount of her time and attention,” says Letshwiti. She says rather than scolding him, his feelings must be acknowledged. The challenge, she says, will be to show him his feelings are understood, and the mother too must make the conscious effort to take a minute to listen to and hold him.

Moitsadi says looking on the bright side, she and her husband are glad they will do the job of raising their children at the same time and get it over and done with.

“When they are past the age of five, I think it will be a breeze,” she jokes. She is glad she will only buy toys once since they will be passed down and hopes they are the same sex so she does the same with their clothes.

“All I can do is seek as much help as possible from professionals and also mothers who have been down this same road. When I’m equipped with the right knowledge I am optimistic that I will pull it off. I’m so grateful too that my husband is quite a hands-on dad as that will sure lighten the load,” Moitsadi says.

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