Should I Have Another Baby? How Will I Know I’m Ready?
After you've welcomed your first child into the world, your whole life changes. Once you get used to your new way of living, you might already start to wonder whether you should grow your family further. As this is not a decision to take lightly, we’ve compiled a list of things to keep in mind when determining if you’re ready for another child.
We’ll look at several aspects that are crucial to you and your partner when it comes to family planning:
- The age of your other child(ren) and maternal health
- You and your partner's health
- Your money matters
- Your housing and how that may need to change
- Your further education and work responsibilities
- Family and societal pressures
The Age of Your Other Child(ren) and Maternal Health
When deciding to have another baby, taking the age of your other child(ren) into account is important, as children react to a new sibling differently depending on their age.
A Small Age Gap (Less Than 2 Years)
While there is no hard and fast rule as to the exact time you should wait between pregnancies, there is research that shows there may be health risks involved when pregnancies are less than 18 months – and especially less than 12 months – apart.
A 2018 study, published in JAMA Internal Medicine, came to the conclusion that short intervals between pregnancies appear to be associated with higher risks for both mother and baby.
Waiting 18 – 24 months will also give your body time to fully recover from your previous pregnancy. The chances of your baby being born preterm or with a low birth weight are also lower if you wait between pregnancies.
Dealing with a toddler and infant can be challenging when the “terrible twos” strike, but by this time, you will be an old hand at caring for an infant. Your toddler might also already attend a playgroup or daycare, leaving you to spend quality time with the newest addition to your family.
Another benefit of having children closer together is that they can share toys, friends, and TV shows.
A Large Age Gap
One of the benefits of a larger age gap is that the oldest child will be able to already do some things for itself and the chaos may be a little less because of that. You’ll also be more apt to let go of the small things and focus on what is really necessary when it comes to looking after your new infant.
Waiting a little longer to have your next child will also be safer for both mom and baby as your body would have had time to completely recover from the previous pregnancy. Labour complications are also less at the 3-year mark, studies have found.
The sibling(s) of your new baby may act out and be jealous because they realise that they’re no longer the centre of attention all the time. Preparing your older child for the new baby and letting them help (with age-appropriate tasks) will, however, make them feel included in this new adventure.
You and Your Partner's Fertility Health
A couple’s fertility health is, unsurprisingly, of great importance when you want to conceive another child. Not only the female but also the male fertility health are vital. While many women struggle with conceiving their first child (primary infertility), many more have problems when it comes to trying for their second or third pregnancy (secondary infertility).
As timing plays a big role when it comes to fertility, OPKs like Eveline can be helpful in determining the best time during your menstrual cycle to try and conceive. They analyze and predict your fertile windows with high accuracy and remind you automatically when the time is right to baby-dance.
If one or both of the couple takes chronic medication of some kind, this will need to be taken into account and discussed with the relevant healthcare professionals. The medication may need to be stopped for a time or changed slightly to ensure a successful pregnancy. Furthermore, mental health is also something that should be considered as it strongly affects the ability to parent.
OPKs like Eveline can also be helpful in determining the best time during your menstrual cycle to try and conceive. It can even be used when you need to undergo fertility treatments to conceive another child.
Your Money Matters
When it comes to considering your finances, it’s about more than only paying for daycare, school, and college. The pregnancy’s cost should also be budgeted for. For example, you may find that you or your partner has secondary infertility and that you need expensive fertility treatments to conceive.
You will need to be aware of not only the expenses of having two (or more) children, but also the lifestyle you want to have and offer to your children. Do you, for example, want to take regular family vacations to give your children experiences that they can cherish? And do you want to ensure that you have enough money for extracurricular activities and classes?
Your Housing and How It May Have to Change
Part of the changes that you’ll need to make when you grow your family, is to have enough space available for everyone. Although sharing a bedroom is easy, especially when children are young, you’ll still need to have space to accommodate both in the room.
If you do need to move to a larger apartment or house, you’ll need to weigh whether you can afford to stay in the same area or will have to move to a more affordable area or even another city or town.
Deciding on living arrangements beforehand can help to avoid having to decide everything last-minute or when you’re both too exhausted to even contemplate a move. You’ll also be settled in your new place when the baby comes and already have built a new support network.
Your Further Education and Work Responsibilities
Whether you’re studying a graduate, post-graduate or diploma course – you will need to take into account that you may have evening and weekend classes, not to mention that you need time for homework.
Although studying in itself isn’t a reason to not have another child, making sure that you have a support system in place before doing so is to everyone’s advantage.
It’s a reality that, when it comes to work and career paths, women often have to choose between taking promotions (and spending more time at work) and spending more time at home with her family.
Work responsibilities that will mean long hours, lots of travel, etc. may leave you feeling that you aren’t doing enough for your family on a personal front. It’s therefore extremely important that you and your partner talk through your careers going forward and how having another child will influence this path that you had envisioned before.
While this may seem selfish to some, it is an important issue to address before you have another child and then bear resentment or regret later in life. This resentment won’t be fair on the child, you, or the rest of the family.
Just as with studying, having a career doesn’t mean that you can’t have children, and vice versa. It does mean that shooting up the ranks in the corporate world, for instance, becomes less important and urgent as your kids’ well-being comes first.
Family and Societal Pressures
Both family and societal pressures can be extremely difficult and stressful to bear when it comes to having children.
Although data from The World Bank shows that the average births per woman have decreased over the last decades, there is still a perception in a large swathe of the population that you have to have more than one child. This often stems from the belief that an only child will be spoiled and won’t have the necessary social skills to interact with other people.
It is also from this belief that many well-meaning family, friends or even strangers may ask you when you’re planning to have your second baby. Having more children, however, should always be a private decision between you and your partner – even though this can be very difficult in some cultures.