Kate Cheney


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    Objectives The time between one pregnancy and the conception of the next is the interpregnancy interval (IPI). Short intervals of less than 6 months are consistently found to be associated with a range of adverse maternal and neonatal outcomes including maternal anaemia, preterm birth and low birthweight and those less 12 months increase the risk of neonatal morbidity. Amongst women attending two maternity hospitals in Sydney Australia, we sought a random sample of women to examine the timing of their IPIs and their understanding about the optimal space between pregnancies. Methods A prospective questionnaire-based study was performed at two hospitals in Sydney, Australia between Sep 2016 and May 2017. We collected demographic data, previous obstetric history, interpregnancy interval, contraceptive use and perspectives on advice and timing of the current pregnancy and ideal birth spacing from consenting women attending their second antenatal visit or immediately postnatal. Results 316 women completed questionnaires of whom 195 women were pregnant following a live birth. Of these, 119 (61%) reported that neither the hospital nor their GP had provided advice about ideal IPIs, 46.2% had not used contraception between pregnancies and 38 (19.5%) had an IPI 12 months, significantly fewer women with an IPI of < 1 2 months had used contraception after the last birth (21.6% versus 59.9%; p < 0 .001) and significantly more believed that < 1 2 months was an ideal birth interval (73.9 versus 44.5%; p=0.031). Conclusion: Most women who completed a questionnaire following a live birth reported a lack of health provider information about ideal IPIs. Where optimal IPI was understood to be less than a year, women were more likely to have a short interval between pregnancies. Almost half of women did not use any contraception.