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Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy (HTSP): For healthy babies, healthy mothers, and healthy communities. Adapted from presentation by May Post, ESD Project Consultation on Faith, Family Planning, and Family Well-being , Georgetown University, April 2011.

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Healthy Timing and Spacing of Pregnancy (HTSP):For healthy babies, healthy mothers, and healthy communities

Adapted from presentation by May Post, ESD Project

Consultation on Faith, Family Planning, and Family Well-being, Georgetown University, April 2011

the technical experts concluded that closely spaced pregnancies can lead to the following
The technical experts concluded that closely spaced pregnancies can lead to the following:

Source: Report of a Technical Consultation Report on Birth Spacing (WHO)

Babies may be:

  • Born too early
  • Of low birth weight
  • Too small
  • More likely to die

Mothers may be:

  • More likely to die in childbirth
  • More likely to miscarry a pregnancy
  • More likely to seek an unsafe abortion
pregnancy timing
Pregnancy Timing

Women under the age of 18 are twice as likely to die, and women under the age of 15 are five times more likely to die of complications compared to women over18 years of age.

recommendations from who unicef and unfpa on early age pregnancy
Recommendations from WHO, UNICEF and UNFPA on early age pregnancy

Source: UNICEF, Facts for Life 3rd edition, New York, United nations Children’s Fund , 2002; WHO/UNFPA Pregnant Adolescents: Delivering on Global Promises of Hope, WHO, 2006

Delay first pregnancy until at least 18 years of age.

Kenyan mother, 2006 Mike Wang, Courtesy of Photoshare

htsp concept
HTSP Concept

HTSP helps women:

  • space pregnancies
  • better time pregnancies
  • become pregnant and give birth when it is healthiest and safest for mother and child.
benefits of htsp
Benefits of HTSP
  • Progress in FP’s role in helping women avoid unintended pregnancies.
  • Focus on lowered fertility
  • FP’s role in achieving healthy fertility – much less recognized
  • The focus on healthy fertility encourages couples to use FP - to time and space pregnancies – for improved mother and child health
benefits of htsp for women
Benefits of HTSP: For Women


  • A reduced risk of pregnancy-related complications
  • Gives mothers two years to fully prepare for her next pregnancy


  • Physically and psychologically prepared to become mothers
  • Allows time for school and education
what role does education play
What role does education play?

Girls’ secondary school is associated with:

  • Higher immunization rates
  • Improved household nutrition
  • Lower rates of domestic violence
  • Delayed childbearing
  • Increased use of family planning

Ian Diamond et al., “Female Education and Fertility: Examining the Links,” in Critical Perspectives on Schooling and Fertility in the Developing World, ed. Caroline H. Bledsoe et al. (Washington DC: National Academies Press, 1999): 23-45.

benefits of htsp for children
Benefits of HTSP: For Children
  • A reduced risk of:
    • Pre term birth
    • Low birth weight
    • SGA (small baby)
    • Death
  • Breastfed for a full 2 years
  • Undivided attention from the mother
benefits of htsp for men
Benefits of HTSP: For Men

Involves men in making decisions about family planning, child spacing, and the health of the family.

Gives men a feeling of satisfaction when they can guarantee the well being of their families

Allows men time to emotionally and financially prepare for the birth of the next child

benefits of htsp for communities
Benefits of HTSP: For Communities

Communities will see:

  • Less illness and death among mothers, babies, and children
  • Improvements in the quality of life
    • Men and women have more educational opportunities
    • More time to contribute to community development
    • Less stress
  • Reduced poverty
htsp messages
HTSP Messages

Support men and women practice healthy timing and spacing of pregnancy.

This means that:

  • After a live birth, couples should wait at least 24 months before trying to become pregnant again.
  • After a miscarriage or abortion, couples should wait at least six months before trying to become pregnant again.
  • Adolescents should delay pregnancy until at least 18 years of age.
  • Women and men should use a family planning method of their choice to delay and space their pregnancies.
what can we do
What can we do?

Advocacy: Reaching decision makers with data and evidence

Leadership: Informed leaders ensuring an enabling environment

Training: Training health workers in HTSP counseling

BCC: Producing educational materials to support HTSP BCC

Smart integration

Community education: Educating communities about HTSP benefits in churches, mosques, schools, workplace, community events.

annual global burden of disease
Annual Global Burden of Disease
  • >500,000 maternal deaths (70,000 abortion-related; 60,000 eclampsia related)
  • 8 million women suffer complications
  • 5.5 million adolescent girls give birth
  • 4 million newborn deaths (28% linked to pre-term births)
  • 18 million LBW infants (98% in developing countries)
htsp a small change that produces big results
HTSP: A Small Change that Produces Big Results
  • Reducing closely spaced pregnancies
  • Timing pregnancies at the best age possible
  • Contributes to the healthiest outcomes for mothers, babies, families and communities.
final thoughts
Final Thoughts

“No woman should die bringing life into the world


no child should die when we know how to save them”

UN Secretary General Ban-Ki Moon