How to Decide To Have A Baby
Having kids and raising a family is something that many people dream of doing. However, for some, it not and they need help to decide whether to have kids or not.
In this day and age, there is a lot to consider before having a baby. How do you manage your time as a professional and as a parent? How do you ensure that your kids have the best possible childhood while staying financially, emotionally, and mentally stable?
If you are unsure about whether or not having kids is right for you, we understand. It is a big, life-altering decision.
To that end, we’ve put together this list of things to consider to help you decide if parenthood is right for you.
Benefits of having kids
Having kids will teach you more about life than you could ever imagine. Children bring out the joy in even the simplest of things because children are experiencing life for the first time.
And as their parent, you get to experience these joys right along with them—by walking them through life’s trials and tribulations, the joy of colours and shapes, the beauty of nature, and the magic of make-believe.
As an adult, raising a child allows you to experience life anew, which is something you will cherish for a lifetime.
If this joy and excitement don’t resonate with you, don’t take it as a sign that you don’t want kids. Thought experiments can be difficult, especially if you are already feeling stressed or worried about something else. Re-imagining what life would be like with a little one underfoot may just be too much at the moment.
Why would you want kids?
When deciding whether or not to have kids, it is a good idea to think about why you want a family in the first place.
If you can’t think of a reason and are only considering it because your parents and grandparents keep asking or because all of your friends are having babies, you might be considering it for all the wrong reasons.
Having a family can bring a lot of joy in your life. Whether you’re thinking of having a kid on your own through IVF, through adoption as a single parent or with a significant other, or you and your significant other have been talking about having your own children for a while, having a kid can be a special and momentous experience.
And while having a child comes with its own aches and pains, you will be able to cherish a type of love that you have never experienced before. But, many people are perfectly happy in their lives without having children. And that’s okay. They love their life and don’t feel incomplete without kids.
No matter what decision you make, it is yours. And it is fine. There are no wrong answers here.
Think long and hard about why you are considering kids. Is it something you really want to do or are you doing it for someone else?
Are you prepared?
Having a child is one of those things that you can never fully prepare for, however, there are some things you can do to help yourself out.
If some of your hesitations are stemming from not having the right metaphorical tools, like the mental and emotional calmness, financial readiness, or good physical health, this might be what is holding you back more than anything.
In recent years, more and more young people have chosen to make mental health and self-care core facets of their lifestyle. This trend is seeing people say yes to healthy habits, embracing therapy as a useful tool for growth, practicing yoga or meditative practice, and promoting these actions for the benefit of others.
Understandably, more people are starting to recognize the importance of mental health. Understand that taking time to focus on your mental health does not mean that you are unfit for parenthood. In fact, it is often a good sign that you are seeking to better yourself and become the best person you can be. Not only will this allow you to enjoy life more freely, but it shows your adaptability and flexibility, traits that will help you raise happy and healthy children.
If you are struggling with mental health, know that there is support for you. Addressing your mental health is of the utmost importance and should be prioritised before you rush into any big decisions like having kids.
That said, if you need mental support or have dark thoughts, please reach out to a health professional immediately.
As a potential mother, it is vital that the physical body is prepared to grow, nurture and birth a child. This means that physical health and wellbeing must be prioritized.
There are many varied ways that poor physical health can impact pregnancy and birth. This is not to say that a woman needs to be a specific size or weight but that all underlying health conditions need to be addressed in relation to a potential pregnancy to ensure that those underlying conditions will not negatively impact the gestational process.
Some conditions that might cause an issue when getting pregnant is polycystic ovarian syndrome or PCOS. PCOS is a hormonal syndrome that affects women of reproductive age and it could cause cysts in the ovaries, infertility or difficulty getting pregnant, insulin resistance, gestational diabetes, and other physical side effects. While PCOS is not guaranteed to be detrimental to a pregnancy, it could cause underlying conditions and negative side effects.
PCOS is just one example of a condition that might negatively affect a pregnancy. Speak with your doctor if you have any conditions that might be cause for concern, including cardiovascular issues, hormonal or reproductive issues, or anything that might cause a suppressed immune system.
A pregnancy might bring on its own physical ailments, so you should be prepared for those. These include anemia (low iron in the blood), urinary tract infections (UTIs), mental health conditions, hypertension, gestational diabetes, obesity and weight gain, infections and more.
One of the major questions that expecting or potential parents have is around the cost of having a child.
It is not surprising that having a kid is expensive, and it is important that your family is financially stable or financially able to support a child. Being financially prepared for a child is ideal, although we do recognise, not always possible.
Remember, you will want what is best for your family and struggling to make ends meet or having to figure out how to feed one more person can be stressful and this might negatively impact your mental and physical health.
This does not mean that you shouldn’t have children if your bank account is low. There are always things you can do to remedy that scenario.
Work with a financial advisor so that you know and understand what your costs might be and how this relates to your income. In Australia, one study suggests that the cost of having two kids is around $297,000 from the time that they are born to the time that they are 17.
This estimate works out to be about $340 a week and includes two kids and two parents. These numbers will obviously vary from family to family, and the estimate might actually increase if one parent or guardian leaves the workforce to raise the children (as that contributes to the loss of a dual income).
Unfortunately, $297k is just a number and doesn’t actually tell us much. To help you understand further, we’ve tried to breakdown the cost of having a baby:
- According to the Australian Institute of Family Studies, food, housing and education take up approximately 18-22% of monthly child care budgets. Also, consider that a family with more children is likely to need a bigger house. So while some of these costs are subsumed in the cost of your own housing, a child might add 18-22% more.
- The more kids that you have, the more likely it is that you will be able to reuse some of their things, such as clothes and toys (and lessons!). The cost of having 1 child is around $263 per week, but then that drops to $220 per week for the second child and $184 per week for the third child.
If you feel that you are financially ready to move forward with children but you’re not sure if you understand your costs of having a kid, you can easily work through this on your own, through a financial planner, or through a parenting planning service.
Oftentimes, having a child requires a bit of financial sacrifice. But, the good news is that most parents do not regret these sacrifices in the least!
Working through the struggle
According to California therapist Ann Davidman, there are a lot of people who need clarity around deciding whether or not to have children. And her first recommendation is to not fret.
Her next bit of advice is simple: write down every fear, loaded question, and disapproving comment that leaves your stuck in this indecision.
- Will my mum be disappointed if I don’t give her a grandchild?
- What kind of world will my kid grow up in?
- Will I regret it if I don’t have a baby?
- Will I regret it if I do have a baby?
She then says that you should put them in an envelope and seal it. This guidance was part of Davidson’s co-authored book, Motherhood – is it for me? Your Step-by-Step Guide to Clarity.
These common questions are usually what pops up when we don’t know what we want. Therefore, it’s important to first set those aside and focus on what your heart tells you. Of course, opting into a parenting course might be the way to go, but you can also ask yourself these questions:
- Why do I want kids?
- Do I see a real benefit to my life if I have kids?
- What are the ways that my life or my kids’ life might be negatively impacted?
- Is this something that I am uncomfortable with? Comfortable with?
- What are ways that I can improve my [life/mental wellbeing/etc] so that I can get to a point where kids might make sense?
Of course, these questions are extremely loaded and they will not be answered in a day. However, know that we exist in a time period where more people are choosing to be childless, and you should not feel any sense of guilt in sitting with these questions and taking the time you need to address them.
Deciding Whether You Should Have Kids
Deciding whether or not you should have kids is a big choice and it does not need to be taken lightly. Just know that you are not alone and that many people struggle with this choice.
Before diving into parenthood, consider all of your options and look for resources to help you prepare.
Australian Institute of Family Studies. (April 17, 2018). New estimates of the costs of raising children in Australia. Australian Government. Retrieved September 1, 2020
Blum, L. M. (2007). Mother-blame in the Prozac nation: Raising kids with invisible disabilities. Gender & Society, 21(2), 202-226.
CDC. Pregnancy Complications. Retrieved September 1, 2020
Dhel, Rham. (August 16, 2018). 10 Reasons Why People Want Kids (and 10 Reasons They Don’t). Retrieved September 1, 2020
Gibson, Caitlin. (March 17, 2019). “Deciding whether to have kids has never been more complex. Enter parenthood-indecision therapists.” The Washington Post. Retrieved September 1, 2020
Mental Health. Australian Government. Retrieved September 1, 2020
Stern, Aaron. (July 23, 2020). “Should I Have Kids? This Therapist Can Help You Decide.” Fatherly.com. Retrieved September 1, 2020
Thach, Maurice. (April 27, 2020). The cost of raising children in Australia. Finder.com. Retrieved September 1, 2020