A new mother hands you her bundle of joy. Cradling the baby, you inhale his powdery scent, and marvel at how tiny his hand is around your finger. You sigh longingly, remembering when your other children were that small. Then realization dawns: you have been bitten by the baby bug. The matter of whether or not to have another child deserves careful consideration. Ask yourself the following five questions before deciding to grow your family with a new addition.
Can you physically handle another pregnancy? When the memory of your last pregnancy has faded with the advent of other child rearing concerns, it is easy to forget how physically taxing pregnancy can be. Consider your current health and whether there might be any factors that would make pregnancy dangerous to you or the baby. High blood pressure, past gestational diabetes, and advanced maternal age are just a few of the concerns that should be carefully addressed before you start charting your basal body temperature. Whether or not you have specific health concerns, it is important to talk to your family doctor or obstetrician to see if there are any potential health reasons why another pregnancy might not be right for you.
Where are you going to put a new baby? Our grandparents may love telling stories about babies sleeping in dresser drawers, but space for another child is an important consideration. If your current children are the same gender and sharing a room, will a child of the opposite sex need their own room? If your current house will not support another family member, it may be necessary to move to a larger home. Also, consider whether your car is big enough to safely transport another child in a bulky car seat. If not, move over family sedan, it's time to buy a gas-guzzling SUV or minivan (if you don't own one already). Having to upgrade your house or vehicle size may be a financial consideration before taking the new-baby plunge.
Are you too old to have another baby? While technological advances and societal mores having babies at an advanced maternal age more common, there are some things to consider when thinking of conceiving. Calculate how old you will be when your new child will finally graduate high school. If your intention for retirement does not include chauffeuring a teen to soccer practice, you may want to rethink your plans. There are also pregnancy concerns for older mothers as well. According to the Mayo Clinic, mothers well into their thirties are more likely to have twins due to normal hormonal changes. Their website also states that as maternal age increases, there is a higher risk for Down Syndrome. Discussing these possibilities and others with your doctor will allow you to make a more informed decision.
How old are your other children? Sometimes the pregnancy experience is so wonderful, mothers can't wait to go for another round. Raising a toddler and a newborn requires a lot of patience, stamina and twice the diapers. On the flip side, when a long time has passed since your last child was born, it is easy to forget how taxing caring for a newborn can be. When the age gap is substantial, your new child may grow up as essentially an only child. You might also find yourself trying to buy expensive baby supplies while struggling to fund your older child's college education. Many families have children close in age or far apart and each situation has its own advantages and trials.
Can you afford another baby? As you can see, there are a lot of possible cost factors associated with having another child. Beyond increasing living space and the day to day expense of diapering, feeding and otherwise caring for a baby, long term considerations and current financial status must be addressed. The old adage is, if you wait to have a baby until you can afford to, you will never have a baby. You should, however, consider whether your current financial situation can handle the strain of a new family member. Your plans for the future and your ability to sustain your current family will be affected by having another child.
With so many variables to consider when making the decision of whether or not to have another baby, you may feel overwhelmed. Relax, take a deep breath and get informed. Adding a new addition to your family can be a wonderful when you are prepared with strategies to overcome any concerns or obstacles you may have. You may also find that after carefully considering your unique situation, having another baby may be something to postpone or decide against altogether. Whatever you decide, you can feel good knowing that you have considered all the angles and that it is the right future for you and your family.