Considering Pregnancy at a Glance
- Only you can decide if and when you are ready
- The right time to have a child is different for everyone
- Parenting is a lifelong commitment
Many of us want to become parents someday. Some of us never want to become parents. And many people are unsure.
No matter if you are married, partnered, or single, you have a lot to think about if you're considering getting pregnant and having a child. Only you can decide when the time is right for you.
Is Parenting Right for Me?
Parenting can be joyful, rewarding, and demanding. As you watch your child grow, you may also grow to understand yourself better. Parenting not only takes a lot of love, it also takes a lot of energy and patience. The needs of your child will constantly change. Your job will be to figure out what those needs are and do your best to meet them.
Parenting can be easier to handle if you are realistic about what it means to be a parent. There are many myths about parenting.
Common myths include
- Being a good parent will come naturally to me.
- Having a child will make everything in my life fall into place.
- I will become a more patient person when I have a child.
- Giving up some freedom in my life will be easy for me.
- My child won't have problems if I love my child enough.
- My child will give me all the love I need.
- My child will be happy if I am a good parent and try my best to meet the needs of my child.
- I won't need any help to take care of my child.
People with unrealistic expectations of parenthood may have a harder time adjusting to the demands of raising a child. Talking with other parents about the challenges and rewards of parenting may help you make your decision. It might also help to spend time taking care of a child you know if you don't normally spend much time around kids.
Can I Meet a Child's Needs?
If you are thinking about getting pregnant, you may wonder if you are prepared. Do you have what you might need to take care of a child?
- Time — children can put your school plans or a career on hold.
- Energy and care — children need parents who are loving, patient, and flexible.
- Planning — having children takes daily planning, as well as long-term planning for the next stages of the child's life.
- Material things and money — children need clothes, diapers, food, and health care, and they often need daycare.
Is Now the Right Time to Have a Child?
Many of us believe that there is a "perfect" time to have a child. The truth is that there may never be a perfect time in your life to have a child. But it may be better to bring a child into the world at some points in our lives than at others.
Here are some things to consider:
- Am I ready to make any needed changes in my diet and lifestyle in order to have a healthy pregnancy and healthy child?
- Am I ready to help a child feel wanted and loved?
- Am I ready to cope with a tighter budget, less time for myself, and more stress?
- Do I have the support of family and friends?
- Am I ready to accept responsibility for all my child's needs?
- Would I prefer to have a child at another time?
- Can I afford to have a child now?
- What would it mean for my future and my family's future if I had a child now?
If you are already a parent, ask yourself how bringing another child into your family will affect your other children.
Think about what your answers mean to you. You may want to discuss your answers with your partner, someone in your family, a friend, a trusted religious adviser, or a counselor.
Parenting With or Without a Partner
You may want to raise a child with or without a partner. Both choices come with their own set of issues. Whether you are single and feel ready for child, a woman who is partnered with another woman, or you are married to or partnered with a man, parenting is a lifelong commitment.
Parenting With a Partner
A child can bring joy to a relationship. A child can also put a strain on the best relationship. Either way, parenting with a partner takes teamwork.
If you are considering parenting with your current partner, consider these questions:
- Do we agree on if and when to have a child?
- Does my partner feel comfortable talking about a long-term relationship?
- Will we share in the care of our child and our home?
- Do we agree on whether we need or want child care (daycare)?
- Are we ready to put up with the strains on our relationship that may come from trying to get pregnant, dealing with pregnancy, and raising a child together?
Discuss your answers to these questions with your partner to see if you are both on the same page and have similar expectations.
With or without marriage, a life partnership can work with or without children, if both people
- are deeply committed to making it work
- understand what each expects from the relationship
Parenting Without a Partner
Like raising a child with a partner, raising a child alone can be exciting, rewarding, and challenging.
One of the benefits of single parenting is that you do not have to compromise your values and beliefs with a partner. You can raise your child as you wish.
If you are considering parenting without a partner, questions about money, career or school, support, and child care can be even more important.
- Will I have to put school or my career on hold to become a parent?
- Can I count on the support of family and friends?
- Will money be a problem?
- Can I afford child care?
- Is there someone I trust to take care of my child if I have to stay late at work or school, or get sick?
Planning Your Pregnancy
Whether or not you are with a partner, if you're considering pregnancy, you may find it helpful to ask yourself the questions listed on this page. Consider your feelings and values about raising a child, and what you want for your life and for your family or future family.
If you decide that now is the time to become pregnant, it's a good idea to talk with your health care provider before you get pregnant. Your health care provider can help you make important changes to your diet and lifestyle that will help you have the healthiest pregnancy possible.