The decision of whether to have a baby comes easily for some women. For others, the decision to start a family can be difficult. How do you know if and when you are ready to have a child? There are several considerations to take into account before making the jump into parenthood.
Relationship Stability and the Pressures of a Child
One of the first, and sadly one of the most overlooked, factors couples should consider before having a child is the stability of their relationship. Are you in a committed marriage or long-term relationship?
Sometimes a partner will want to have a baby in the hope that the child will make their relationship stronger. The reality, however, is that the strain of bringing a child into a relationship might prove to be too much, and the union can crumble under the pressure.
Dr. Phil McGraw explains, “A child should be wanted, not needed. Don’t give a child a job before they’re even here – the job of saving your marriage, of making your spouse settle down, of living out your unfulfilled dreams.”
Couples should make sure they have similar life goals. Do you both want to restructure your lives, making your top priority raising a child from infancy to adulthood? Dr. Phil goes on to say, “Both of you need to be comfortable with having a child. Don’t force your partner into parenthood. It could lead to resentment, threaten your relationship and be bad for the child.”
Juggling a Career and Children
Partners need to asses the status of their careers and their goals for their jobs. Are you both currently working? Is either of you attending school?
The demands of raising a child will require both parents to sacrifice their time and energy. If both are working, one may need to consider quitting or cutting back on his or her job to devote attention and loving care to the baby. This balance of finding time for family and out-of-the-home pursuits can be especially challenging for adults trying to finish school.
Can Your Budget Support a Family?
Couples need to determine if they are currently making enough money to support a growing family. In many situations, both a husband and wife are working outside the home before the birth of the baby, but after the arrival of the newborn one will quit to stay home with the child. Adjusting from a DINK (double income no kids) lifestyle to a single-income lifestyle can be challenging and can require a lot of creativity to make ends meet.
Health Considerations Before Having Baby
Men and women should consider their overall health before having a child. This is especially important in the case of the mother, but studies have shown that the father’s health is also important to conceiving a healthy baby.
A woman’s age should also be taken into account. Women in their 20s are at the height of their fertility. Women’s fertility begins to decline in their late 20s, but women can have perfectly healthy babies into their late 30s.
There are a few other things women can do to make sure they are healthy when they conceive. They should receive a checkup before trying to get pregnant. Women of child-bearing age should also take a prenatal vitamin that contains folic acid daily. Females should also be eating a healthy, nutritious diet.
Am I Mature Enough to Have a Baby?
Parenthood turns a couple’s lifestyle inside out and upside down. The needs of a newborn are all consuming and demand that new parents shift their priorities. This reality can be both exciting and difficult. Sleepless nights, stress and worry over new responsibilities, and potential postpartum_depression”>postpartum depression for new moms can take a toll.
Quoted in the article “Are You Ready to Have a Baby?,” psychologist Deborah Issokson straightforwardly explains the difficulties of parenthood:
“[Couples] often imagine they will be madly in love with their new babies and will sit around staring longingly into each other’s eyes. They are not prepared for what sleep deprivation really feels like or how it affects relationships. They are not prepared for the feelings of loss and grief as they focus on the loss of spontaneity in their lives, the loss of intimate time with a partner, the changes in friendships. They are not prepared for the depression and anxiety that so often accompanies the arrival of a new baby. Minimally, 10 to 20 percent of new moms will experience a level of depression or anxiety that will feel debilitating.”
Are You Ready to be a Mom?
Women have more choices now than at any other time in history, but this can also make the decision of whether to have a baby more difficult. Some women are caught between a desire to have a career and raise a family. Others wonder when the perfect time is to have a baby. There are several considerations couples should factor into their decision, but women (and men) should acknowledge that conditions will never be perfectly ideal and that a leap of faith will be required to have a baby.
DrPhil.com, “Should You Have a Baby?”
StorkNet.com, “Are You Ready to Have a Baby?”