Children: Restricting number of children

Q98 :In a discussion with friends recently, some of us were of the opinion that there should be no restriction on the number of pregnancies or child-bearing. Others insisted on allowing time between every two pregnancies to give the mother a chance to recover and the child a chance to grow up more healthy. They said that temporary methods may be used for this purpose. Is this permissible?

A98 : Experienced and honest doctors are unanimous in their view that pregnancy spacing, which means allowing two or three years between each two pregnancies is important for the health of the mother. It allows her time to recover her strength before she goes through another pregnancy which adds a significant burden on her health. They allow that frequent pregnancies, particularly by women in poor areas, may expose the mother to a number of health risks. Women who have several pregnancies in quick succession may suffer under-nourishment which aggravates the risk to which they are exposed. Since this has been proven beyond doubt, it is permissible, from the Islamic point of view, to take any legitimate steps which are calculated to give the mother a better standard of health. It is only common sense to say that a mother with a young baby will be able to take better care of her young child if she is not pregnant than she can do during pregnancy. She can better breast-feed and take good care of the child during illness. This child will benefit a great deal if the mother is free to devote more time. In the light of the foregoing, it is both desirable and preferable to allow a period of time, such as 2-3 years between each two pregnancies. Indeed Allah has helped make such pregnancy spacing easier by stating that the full term of breast feeding is two years. This encourages mothers to breast-feed their newborn children for two complete years. The majority of women do not get pregnant while breast-feeding, although a substantial proportion of them do. Women in the latter group need a supplementary method of birth control to enjoy a long enough period free of pregnancy. Such methods are permissible to adopt on the individual level, provided they are safe and involve nothing harmful to the woman or to the fetus. Methods which prevent conception are the one to be employed. It has been authentically reported by some of the companions of the Prophet that they used to resort to available methods of birth control and the Prophet did not forbid them that. He told them that such methods could not stop the creation of a human being, if Allah wills him or her to be created.

Our Dialogue ( Source : Arab News - Jeddah )