Should or shouldn't we?
For some people, the desire to have multiple children is deeply entrenched. Perhaps they come from a large family and dream of a house filled with laughter and the pitter-patter of little feet. Others may have grown up as an only child who longed for the companionship of a sibling. Regardless of the reason, they know they plan to have more than one child. In these cases, the considerations for when to have the next child are usually pragmatic. For others, the desire to have more than one child may be offset by multiple practical, social, emotional, financial and ethical considerations. To name a few. . .
· Can we afford another child?
· Is it fair to our first child?
· My first pregnancy was a nightmare!
· Let’s not tempt fate – our first child is perfect.
· My eggs are older now and the risk of problems for the child is greater.
· I don’t want to interrupt my career at this stage.
· Our oldest doesn’t want a sibling.
· Our oldest wants a sibling
· The world is over-populated already – we need to make an ethical choice.
· What if I can’t love another child as much as our first one?
· I am not sure our relationship is stable enough to introduce another child.
· We can’t afford college for more children.
· My/Our parents really want more grandchildren!
· I had a horrible time with postpartum depression after the first delivery.
· I just lost my baby weight.
· We will need a bigger house before we can have more children.
· I don’t want to give up more of my time to care for an infant.
· We had difficulty getting pregnant the first time – I don’t want to go through fertility treatments again.
· If we adopt, we can’t be sure the child will be healthy.
· What if the biological parents change their minds and want the baby back?
· My spouse is unsure or uncommitted to the relationship or prospect of parenting.
· And so on…
So, what about you?
What considerations do you and your partner need to discuss before making a decision to have another child? Choose from the list above and/or take some time to write down all of your concerns, questions and thoughts about having another child. Some of those listed may be considered deal breakers for one or both of you. It is important that you both agree on whether and when to have another child. If you can’t agree, that should probably be a ‘no’ or at least ‘not now’.
If you can’t agree or find you have concerns that can’t be resolved to your satisfaction, you may choose not to have another child (even if you wanted to have more children). In this case, you may need to take some time to talk about the loss of that dream. Give yourself time to mourn the loss of the future you had imagined. Talk to a therapist or minister about it, if needed.
In working through your concerns, it might be helpful to follow this decision making process.
1. List the pros and cons of having another child vs. not having another child. Write as many as you can think of for each list. Perhaps you should do this separately, then combine your lists. That will allow for more honesty and open dialogue.
2. If the pros seem to outweigh the cons, evaluate each ‘con’ to determine if it can be addressed or overcome. It will be helpful to address every ‘con’ you have listed to determine if it can be overcome in a reasonable, affordable way that is likely to resolve the concern. It will take some time, but when making a decision as important as whether to have another child, resolving your concerns before taking the next step is smart. In most cases, the amount of time required to explore the problem and possible solutions will not make a huge difference. If you listed post-partum depression as a concern, the process would be:
Problem: Risk of Postpartum depression (PPD) is high
Possible Solutions: Discuss possibility of PPD with OB to determine plan to prevent or address this before it becomes unmanageable (some antidepressants are used during the last trimester for this purpose)
Problem: Inability to breastfeed baby if taking antidepressants
Possible Solutions: Discuss this with OB (some research shows that specific antidepressants do not affect infant serum levels) and pharmacist
Problem: The antidepressants that are considered safe for pregnancy and breastfeeding may not work for me (or didn’t work for me in the past)
Possible Solutions: Discuss this with the OB and request consultation with psychiatrist if needed; Discuss this issue with your pharmacist; Research scholarly articles to determine the latest research findings
3. After addressing each of the ‘cons’ make a decision based on whether you can resolve your concerns to the satisfaction of both parties. If either of you does not feel good about the resolution of your concerns, you should probably wait. This may be the time to talk to an outside party to get some perspective. Open dialogue is critical when addressing something this important. If you both agree – go for it!
Hull, Jennifer Bingham. "Should You Have a Second Child?" Should You Have a Second Child? Web. 12 Dec. 2013.
Overall, Christine. "Think Before You Breed." New York Times: The Opinion Pages, Web. 12 Dec. 2013.