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Short interpregnancy interval: circumstance or choice?
  1. Rebecca Alexandra Margaret Taylor1,
  2. Jenny M Yang1,
  3. Kate Cheney2,
  4. Kirsten Black2
  1. 1Women and Babies, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2Faculty of Medicine and Health, The University of Sydney Central Clinical School, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr Rebecca Alexandra Margaret Taylor, Women and Babies, Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney, NSW 2050, Australia; beckytaylor{at}


Introduction Despite the knowledge of pregnancy risks attributable to inadequate birth spacing, over one-third of pregnancies occur within 18 months of a preceding birth. In this qualitative study we sought to interview women with a short interpregnancy interval (sIPI) to explore their knowledge of contraception and birth spacing and their experience of counselling on these themes.

Methods We conducted in-depth interviews with women with a sIPI (live-birth less than 18 months prior to conception of current pregnancy) at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital and Canterbury Hospital in Sydney, Australia. Women were recruited at the second antenatal visit or day 3 postpartum. Interviews were recorded and transcribed. The six-phase thematic analysis framework described by Braun and Clarke was used to perform qualitative data analysis.

Results Twenty women were interviewed (IPI range: 3–18 months). The three central themes that arose were that perceptions of IPIs are shaped by individual circumstances, a lack of information from healthcare providers (HCPs) on IPI and contraception limited women’s ability to make informed decisions, and that reproductive life planning is an important element of pregnancy care.

Conclusions In this study, women with a sIPI did not feel informed about birth spacing, had poor knowledge of reliable contraceptives, and remained at risk of further closely spaced pregnancies. There was a desire among women with a sIPI to receive clear and consistent education on these topics. HCPs need to do more to educate women in the antenatal and postnatal period to help them space their pregnancies appropriately.

  • reproductive behavior
  • qualitative research
  • contraception behavior
  • counseling

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. De-identified interviews are available upon reasonable request.

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Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request. De-identified interviews are available upon reasonable request.

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  • Contributors RAMT, JMY, KB and KC all contributed to the study design and thematic analysis of this research. RAMT recruited and interviewed patients, performed initial coding on the data, prepared the initial manuscript and is the guarantor.

  • Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient and public involvement Patients and/or the public were not involved in the design, or conduct, or reporting, or dissemination plans of this research.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.