Is it Time to Have “The Talk”?
Author: Lauren Gottschalk-Scher
You've discussed having children “someday” with your partner, but you're starting to think about “someday soon.” Before you ask, “Do you want to have a baby?” think about and discuss the following questions:
Is your relationship stable?
You should have a strong, stable relationship before having a baby. Caring for a baby will reduce the amount of time you spend with your partner. If either of you feel insecure or unloved, resolve these issues before having a baby. If you are newly married or have just moved in together, adjust to these changes first. If you bicker or fight frequently, see a relationship counselor before trying to conceive. The stress and sleep deprivation a baby brings can increase the frequency and intensity of these fights. Having a baby stresses a relationship – it never fixes one.
Have we achieved our personal, educational, and career goals?
Your life won't end when you have a baby, but some goals and dreams are easier to achieve before having children. If you want to travel, go on your dream trip before having a baby. Have you finished your education? You can go back to school after having children, but it may take longer and be harder than expected. Consider your career. Are you ready to take time off for maternity leave? Are you prepared to possibly put career advancement on hold while your children are young? Do you plan to continue working or stay home with your baby?
How will your age affect your decision?
If you are in your twenties, it may be easy to put off having a baby. If you're older, you have to consider biological facts. Women are now having babies in their forties, but it is not as easy or healthy as some would have you believe. After 35, the number and health of eggs decrease, as does sperm count. The risk of pregnancy complications, miscarriages, and birth defects increase as a woman ages. You can go back to school or refocus on your career anytime, but it's not realistic to think you can put off having a baby indefinitely.
Are you financially ready?
Think beyond baby gear, which is a one-time expense. Factor in the monthly cost of formula if you're not breastfeeding, diapers, clothing, and daycare if both parents are returning to work. Are your jobs stable? Will you have more potential earning power as your child ages and expenses increase? If one of you wants to stay home with the baby, is the other's salary enough to support the family? Are you ready to make the financial sacrifices that may be necessary to raise a child?
Are we ready for another baby?
If you are considering having another baby, it is important to address the previous concerns while also considering how a new baby will affect your family. A new baby decreases the time and attention you have for older children. Think about short-term and long-term advantages and disadvantages to having children close in age and to having them more spaced out. Consider the personalities and needs of your children before deciding when to have another. Also consider that studies have shown that waiting at least 18 months between pregnancies is healthier for the mother and baby.
While there's never a “perfect” time to have a baby, you should wait for a “good” time. Discuss all concerns, and make sure you and your partner are in agreement. Remember that while it may take a while to get pregnant, you may also conceive right away - be fully prepared before you start trying.