The decision to start a family of your own is one that will usher in an exciting new chapter of your life. However, making this decision requires you to carefully plan how you will navigate both the process of conception as well as parenthood. Whether you have already started mapping out your future as a parent or have just decided that children are in the cards, here are five questions to ask yourself and your partner if you’re considering starting a family.
1. What will conception look like?
While conceiving a child can seem relatively straightforward, not all couples may be fertile enough to conceive on their own. The first consideration to make is whether you and your partner are both physically ready to have a child. Make an appointment with a nearby fertility doctor to make sure that you are able to have a child on your own (or undergo any treatments necessary to improve your chances). This will help you avoid spending precious time trying to conceive when it may not be possible.
If you find that you and your partner cannot conceive naturally, ask yourself and your doctor about alternative options. One way to work around this issue is to consider a procedure like in vitro fertilization (IVF). Using this process, eggs are harvested from a woman, surgically extracted, fertilized with sperm outside of the body, and then implanted back into the uterus to help you become pregnant. Additionally, these technologies have advanced so much that it is actually possible to ask for IVF gender selection so that you can decide on your child’s desired gender, which is not possible through traditional conception. Remember, the first step of starting a family is conception. Think ahead to all the potential issues you may encounter and find solutions for each of them so that you are properly prepared.
2. Are we financially prepared to support a child?
Children are expensive. From diapers to clothing to food, you will need to provide them with everything that they need from birth to adulthood. As such, it is vital that you know whether or not you can afford a child before you fully entertain the thought. This begins with sitting down and looking at your current budget, taking into consideration items like your current rent, utilities, groceries, and other necessities. Then, figure out how much room you and your partner have to pay for necessary child expenses. If the outlook is not good, it may be best to hold off until you are in a better position financially.
Along with your current financial situation, you will also want to take into consideration what your future may look like. This can include brushing up on your mortgage 101 to prepare for future homeownership, figuring out future career moves for improved income, and planning out major purchases. The more you plan, the more prepared you will be for whatever expenses may come your way.
3. How will having a child impact my lifestyle?
Babies and young children are little bundles of joy, but they require a lot of time and attention as they grow up. Having a child will require you to make major changes both in your personal and professional life, readjusting your initial course in life as you navigate parenthood. That is not to say that having a child is a bad thing. However, you must be sure that you are ready to make the necessary sacrifices now rather than finding out later that it may have been better to wait. Consider how a child will impact your own life and your partner’s, and then decide whether or not you are both ready for the responsibility.
4. Are we emotionally ready to have a child?
The depiction of the tired, stressed parent is one that is common in mainstream media. After all, the level of care that a baby needs is quite extensive. You will most likely encounter things like lack of sleep, increased stress, and major changes in your normal routine. Like the above point, this is not meant to deter you from having a child. Rather, it is to help you figure out whether or not you are emotionally ready to deal with the needs of a baby. Taking the time to prepare for this now can help you immensely in the future if you do decide to wait.
5. Does our child have the environment needed to thrive?
Parents want what is best for their children. While providing them with a loving environment is certainly one necessary component, it is also important to think about the level of comfort, education, and health that they will receive in the life that you give to them. If you may not be at a specific point in your life to give your child all the things you wish for them, waiting until you do have these things can provide your child with the support they need to thrive.
Deciding to have a child is a major life decision. If you are considering having a child of your own, consider the five questions listed above to help you make your decision and prepare for the future.