Providing prospective parents with access to family planning education and services is vital to newborn health.
Ideal timing and spacing of pregnancies are associated with reduced risk of complications and adverse newborn outcomes including preterm birth, low birth weight, small size for gestational age, stunting or underweight conditions, and death. Healthy timing and spacing of pregnancies also improves maternal survival, and infants are far more likely to survive if their mothers also survive the first six weeks after birth.
number of women with unmet need for modern contraception services
number of newborn deaths that could be averted each year if women received modern contraception services
number of stillbirths that could be averted each year if women received modern contraception services
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Timing of pregnancy: Studies have shown that both newborns and mothers have the healthiest outcomes when pregnancies occur between the ages 18 and 34. When mothers are younger than 18 or over 35, they and their infants face increased risk of birth complications, including stillbirth, low birth weight, and preterm birth. Therefore, it is recommended to delay pregnancy until at least age 18. Use of contraception, along with delaying the age of marriage, is an essential strategy for achieving healthy timing of pregnancies.
Spacing of pregnancy: Use of family planning helps achieve healthy spacing of pregnancies, which is critical to a healthy pregnancy and delivery and to newborn survival. When pregnancies are too close together (less than 24 months between the last live birth and the next pregnancy), the risk of low birth weight, preterm birth, and newborn death increases; when pregnancy begins within six months of the last live birth, these complications are even more likely. Furthermore, when a mother who is still nursing an infant of any age becomes pregnant again, it is difficult to meet the nutritional needs of the mother, nursing baby, and fetus. With fertility returning soon after birth, the need for family planning counseling and services before and immediately following delivery is urgent.