Nutrition and Second Child Syndrome
How Can You Optimize Nutrition Before Having a Baby?
One of the questions that many parents have is "should you space your babies close together, or should they be spaced farther apart?" Babies born closer together often have a closer sibling relationship than those that are born farther apart, however, there are many advantages to having babies farther apart, rather than closer together.
One reason that you might want to have your second child three to four years after your first, rather than trying to conceive right away, is to avoid second sibling syndrome. Creating a baby takes a lot of energy and nutrition from the mom. If you have your children too close together, then the second baby might not have the same nutritional advantages as the first.
I didn't know about any of this when I had my two children. My second child was born when my daughter was 4 1/2. I didn't space them for nutritional reasons, but for financial reasons. While it meant more years with diapers, my daughter has been able to help me, at times, with her younger brother.
Whether you have your children close together or farther apart, it's very important to get the best nutrition that you can before you conceive. Don't think about preparing a couple of months ahead of time, if you can, get the best nutrition that you can years ahead of time.
Babies Take a Lot Out of You
Babies take a lot out of the mother. They need calcium for their bones, iron to produce blood cells, and tons of vitamins. Ideally, the mother would be eating nutritionally dense foods that provide everything that the growing baby needs, but more than likely, the baby is also going to end up taking vitamins, fat, and minerals from the mom. The less healthily the mom eats while the baby is growing, the more nutrients the baby will take from the mother.
If the mother isn't healthy to begin with, and doesn't eat as well as she should while the baby is growing, the developing baby may not be able to get optimal nutrition while it is developing, and won't be as healthy as it should be when it is born.
Mothers Need Time to Recover
Have you ever heard a new mom say that they couldn't remember things as well as they used to? That they had "mommy brain"? There's actually a good reason for this. As a mother is growing her baby, her brain can actually shrink. The baby often uses some of the fat in the mother's brain in order to grow. This can make it more difficult for the mother to think. Mommy brain is not in your head! Well, actually it is, but it's not imaginary. There's a good explanation for it.
After a baby is born, iron stores are depleted, as well as many other vitamins and nutrients. If a mom rushes to have another baby, then they won't have the same amount of nutrients to give to their second baby.
Video on Second Sibling Syndrome
Dr. Cate Shanahan is the expert about nutrition - I'm just a student trying to learn more about this stuff. This is the book to check out.
This book discusses second child syndrome, why you should strive to eat healthy foods years before having a baby, and much more. Dr. Shanahan is a medical doctor whose initial undergrad studies in molecular biology helped her make amazing discoveries about nutrition.
How Do Traditional Cultures Space Their Kids?
Traditional cultures don't usually have their children back-to-back. About half of the mothers in an Indian (not Native American) traditional society spaced their kids more than three years apart, and about 75% waited more than two years. These are people in a society that don't have access to modern methods of birth control.
Breastfeeding is one of the easiest ways to space your kids out. While it is true that some people will conceive while breastfeeding, most will not. It's also one of the best ways to provide nutrients to a growing infant (it's important to continue eating healthy foods while breastfeeding as well).
If artificial hormonal birth control is a concern, there are natural ways to avoid conceiving until you are ready for your next child. The best book I know on the subject is "Taking Charge of Your Fertility".
Taking Charge of Your Fertility
How do you space babies while avoiding hormones? This is the best book on natural family planning that I know of. It was recommended to me more than a decade ago. I only have two kids, so it must work ;-).
Getting Ready for the Next Child
How can you give your baby the best start in life nutritionally? By getting yourself healthy long before you actually conceive. In modern society, this can be difficult, but the healthier you are, the better chance your baby has at being born healthy.
Try to eat whole, organic foods when possible. Avoid junk foods like sodas and processed sweets. Learn how to cook healthy foods at home. Learn about healthy foods like raw milk and grass-fed beef. If you're on the go, find healthy snacks. Drink plenty of water (preferably filtered).
If you're not eating an optimal diet, you might want to start taking prenatal vitamins prior to thinking about conceiving. These vitamins can add to your health, but they're going to do the most good before you even know that you're pregnant, so you need to start taking them before you get a positive pregnancy test.
Other Useful Items
- Birth intervals in traditional society
An academic paper about birth intervals in India.
- Symmetry is sexy
Symmetry can indicate health and make you more attractive.
- Autism and Interpregnancy Interval
Children who are born less than 18 months apart have 3x more chance of having autism than children born further apart.