After having a baby, many people are surprised at how quickly friends and family begin asking if they will be having another child in the near future. While there is something special about welcoming another adorable newborn into the world, it is also important to carefully weigh your options when deciding whether or not you want to expand your family. Whether you are facing pressure from family members or simply are concerned that your child needs a sibling, here are some reasons why you may decide to wait before adding a new baby to your family.
Physical Recovery after Childbirth
Although some women seem to sail through labor and delivery with ease, many need some time to recover physically after having a baby. Even those who spring back to normal within only a few weeks should still take time to allow their body to build its strength back up. According to Parents Magazine, the March of Dimes recommends that women wait for 18 to 24 months before attempting to conceive again. This not only allows the new mom to have more time for her body to heal, but will also ensure that everyone has made it through that first year full of sleepless nights before a newborn takes up residence.
Reduce Household Stress
Every family goes through periods of increased stress: maybe it’s a new job, a major life event like moving or just basic family squabbles. Sometimes it’s best to wait out challenging situations before adding a newborn baby to the mix. Waiting to have a baby can allow you time to pursue counseling or practice finding new ways to relax, or to move to a career that’s more rewarding (emotionally or financially). In cases where a stressful event is only anticipated to last for a short period of time — e.g., one of the parents is finishing a degree — then it may be best to wait it out.
Take Time to Budget for a New Baby
Having a new baby can wreak havoc on a family’s finances. This is especially true for families that are already struggling to provide for one or more children. According to a recent study done by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, a family who has a baby in 2013 can expect to spend approximately $241,080 by the time the child turns 18. And that’s just for one kid. While this number is staggering alone, the USDA report goes on to add that this number can reach $301,970 when inflation is taken into account. Spending another year or two saving up can make a significant difference in the quality of life you can offer your child.
Give Younger Children Time to Adjust
Families that already have young children may need to take everyone’s feelings into consideration. Toddlers are notorious for reverting back to baby-like behavior once a newborn is added to the family. Older children may also have concerns that should be addressed before getting pregnant. If you know that a new baby is a certainty, then you may spend some time introducing the idea of a sibling before you conceive. Additionally, waiting can allow your child to adjust to a new sibling once he’s passed a major milestone, such as potty training or starting school.
Strategize in a Changing Economy
The changes in the economy are influencing the decisions many people make in regards to family planning. Those who are concerned about job loss or housing may choose to wait out their current struggles. Additionally, many new parents are deciding that it is better to reuse children’s furniture, clothing and toys from their first child once the new one arrives.
Develop Better Health Habits
Whether it is a woman’s first pregnancy or her fifth, it is important for her to be in excellent health before she gets pregnant. According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, a preconception checkup is always advisable. During this checkup, a woman can discuss any issues with diet, exercise and past health problems so she and the doctor can develop a plan for a healthier lifestyle. Those who engage in activities that are not safe for pregnancy, such as smoking or drinking alcohol, may also decide to wait while they kick their unhealthy habits.
Make Sure Your Partner is Ready
In many relationships, it is not uncommon for one person to get the urge to have another baby while the other partner is not so sure it is the right time. Although it may be hard to wait when one person feels her biological clock is ticking, it is best to be sure that everyone in the family is on board. This is especially true if one partner is facing new challenges in life (job, etc.) that would be affected by having a new baby. This way, everyone will be ready to welcome the baby upon its arrival.
Enjoy Your Youngest Child a Little Longer
There is a popular saying that reminds parents that children are only small for a little while: “The days are long, but the years are short.” Ask any mother who is juggling a newborn and a toddler and she will likely tell you that her firstborn’s first year flew by in a haze. Waiting to expand your family can give you a little extra time to enjoy with your youngest child before a newborn throws you off schedule. Read an extra bedtime story, spend another hour at the park, and think about how rushed you would be if you were exhausted from pregnancy or toting a newborn on your family outing.
Transition Through a Major Life Change
Family life includes many transitional moments during which one or several members of the family may be dealing with a significant life change. For example, caring for an aging family member may take up too much time and energy for you to expend on another pregnancy. Additionally, starting a new job, moving to a new home and completing a program to obtain a degree or diploma are all times when it may be important to focus on just the present task on hand. Although there may never be the perfect time to have another child, it is still best to ensure that you are fully stabilized as a family before you have another little one.
Bringing a new child into the world is a beautiful life event that will lead to many wonderful memories; however, it is important to keep in mind that new babies can be a lot of hard work, not to mention an extra financial burden. Although societal and family pressures may have you feeling as though you need to get started on adding to your family right away, it is always worth the wait to make sure everyone is ready. This way, you can expand your family according to your own schedule so that you, your partner, and your current children will be ready to welcome a new member to your family with open arms.