Is there such a thing as the right time to have a baby? No matter the planning (or lack of), seeing those two lines on the test, the wave of emotion is nothing like you will ever have felt before. Whether that be tears of joy, panic or a quiet numbness it is a small moment which is going to change your life forever. On paper it is simple – either you want a baby or you don’t. But, as with all things in life, it just isn’t that simple. The mind races: “is now the right time?”
For me the answer is, and always will be, no. There is no “right” time. You can be as prepared as you like: a close relationship; a well paid job; the perfect house. That moment is still going to hit you like a tonne of bricks. There’s nothing like pregnancy to make you look at your life and analyse every little detail. Add to that the fact that you have hormones coming out your eyeballs and nausea which makes you feel sub-human.
As a woman, we are constantly talking about having babies; whether that’s with friends, with partners, with family, or somebody passing comment on our life choices. Around us there are constant announcements and headlines shouting “not to leave it too late” or “the risks are higher”. In equal measure is the pressure to succeed in everything. Are you going for that promotion at work? When are you going to get a mortgage on your house? Do I hear wedding bells? The noise is deafening, and us as individuals get lost. Suddenly, you feels like your nan’s friend Brenda is right and you need to get your act together and conform to the expectations set upon us.
Because of this it is suggest that some women take up to a shocking 5 years to plan starting a family! Making babies has become a very serious business. This study by Centrum showed that a third of the 3000 women were aiming for better jobs before having a baby, and over half aimed to own a property. That’s 5 years worth of pressure that women are putting on themselves. And trust me your baby will get poo all over the floor whether you own that carpet or not. Also emerging is the pregnancy “bucket list”, things to do before having a baby, with plans ranging from travelling, to having an article published in a fancy journal. This just emphasises the idea that all the “fun” things in life have to be done before you have kids, then you can become serious and have a family.
Biology says that we shouldn’t wait too long, and that a women’s fertility starts to drop significantly after the age of 30. Fertility Specialists at the London Fertility Centre suggest that couples should consider starting their families in their late 20s and early 30s. After the age of 35 women obviously do get pregnant and have children, but it may take longer to fall pregnant and if you and your partner struggle to conceive it may take longer to identify any problems which occur. However, we shouldn’t be ruled by our biology. Girls are starting their periods earlier than ever, it’s now not uncommon for girls as young as 8 to start menstruating. I think we can all agree that these girls are nowhere near ready to have a baby.
We know that women are leaving it later to have babies as the average age of women giving birth has been on the increase for many years now and the Office for National Statistics found that in 2015 53% of first time mums in the UK were over 30. There are so many different reasons for this, as women we want to have our own lives, we want jobs, we want to go to university and we want to be independent.
If you have you baby is your late 30s you will be in good company, and chances are your friends will probably be having kids as well. This can make a huge difference to how you experience motherhood. Most, if not all, mothers worry about being isolated once they have had their baby and this can be a big issue for women. If your friends are also having kids you automatically have “mummy friends” who can support you and won’t mind coming to your house if you haven’t worn your jeans is two weeks and have baby sick matted in your hair! Saying that – being pregnant or having a baby is the best way to make friends! Pregnancy yoga, antenatal classes, breastfeeding groups, play and stay sessions, weighing clinics; all great ways to meet other parents. Never underestimate the power of friendship and companionship!
Then again – if you have your babies earlier in life, your friends may not have babies, but you can make other friends, your kids will be spoilt rotten and when it’s your friends’ turn to be new mums you can be their mother hen! And as I’ve said you will make other friends with your new addition.
There are so many factors which make up when you are “ready” to have a baby. And even if you do feel that you’re ready, you may not get pregnant at the time that you want. The world isn’t always fair like that. Most couples trying for a baby will fall pregnant within a year, on the flip side 2 in 10 couples will have difficulties getting pregnant. You may plan for years, get to the stage when you feel prepared and then fate throws a curve ball and you struggle to get pregnant. This adds a whole new factor to the big baby question.
So, when is the best time? In short; there is no right time, and the right time is different for every family out there. If you’re planning to have a baby: make sure you feel ready, but don’t expect to ever feel 100% ready! If pregnancy has snuck up on you: try not to panic, sometimes the best things in life aren’t planned. If you want it to work, you’ll make it work.
As a society we are so used to being in control and being able to plan out our lives. Pregnancy isn’t like that, and motherhood is about embracing the wild unknown day by day. There will always be something else going on; a promotion at work, some amazing trip, the perfect house or some new experience you want to try. Sometimes in life you’ve got to take the plunge and just go for it!
Works for the NHS and manages the Baby Grow Club on Facebook