You may have noticed that there’s been a bit of a wedding on recently. The royal nuptials have given the press the opportunity to analyse Meghan’s fashion, her relatives, her career choices and even her family planning. It seems to be part and parcel of a high-profile life, but it’s very intrusive- and, to me, discussions about when to plan a baby seem particularly personal.
A certain secret smile between Harry and Meghan when children were mentioned during the service, has fevered pregnancy speculation. When a couple get married, friends and family can be quick to ask when they’ll hear the pitter-patter of tiny feet. Take it from someone who took quite a while to get pregnant, that kind of questioning can be tough. Even light-hearted and well-meaning banter can hurt. So, this blog isn’t really about whether Harry and Meghan should think about creating the sixth in line to the throne. Instead it’s about some of the things that everyone should think about when deciding when to have a baby.
1. Fit for Anything
You don’t have to be able to run a marathon to have a healthy pregnancy but it can be a good idea to optimise your wellbeing. Cut out booze and cigarettes and eat a healthy balanced diet. I’m talking to future dads as well as mums, there’s evidence that lifestyle changes can boost your fertility, and you’ll also be better able to cope with the stress and sleepless nights of parenthood.
2. Age Appropriate
Like Meghan, more and more women are postponing pregnancy. It makes sense, you have more time to become established in your career and to find the right partner. I was an older mother myself. But age isn’t just a number, as unfair as it seems women’s fertility decreases with age. Getting pregnant is more difficult after the age of 30 and over 35 there is a significant fall off in fertility. So, it’s worth starting to try as soon as practically possible and to get medical advice if it’s taking a while.
3. Money Matters
Cash is unlikely to be a concern for Harry and Meghan, but the rest of us need to think a little more carefully about the finances. Like diamonds, babies can be seriously expensive for something so small. Even without splurging on designer prams and luxury labels, the clothes, equipment and maternity leave can make a chunky hole in your wallet.
Check out your financial as well as your physical health. Do the sums, and don’t just think about the cost of buggies, blankets and baby-grows. Consider the effects on your income, whether you’ll need a bigger car and the costs of childcare when you return to work.
4. Sibling Stress
Having a new baby will affect the kids you already have. They’ve been the centre of your world and they’ll have to share with you with a noisy, new family member. There is no ‘right’ age gap. If they’re close together they may have more in common and become friend. A bigger gap and your child may find it easier to understand and look forward to welcoming a new arrival. Check-out our Your Pregnancy Doctor article on preparing siblings for a new baby.
5. Career Considerations
Meghan stopped acting when she got engaged to Prince Harry, but she’s still active in charity and humanitarian fields. More than ever, with shared parental leave and better workplace protection, women can ‘have it all.’ But juggling a happy family life and a satisfying career can be challenging- and exhausting.
Investigate your maternity rights, and remember that some workplaces have enhanced packages. Think carefully through the best options for your family. What about shared care, part-time or flexible working or a career break? Balance the implications for your family and your finances.
6. Home Sweet Home
If you don’t have an enormous palace apartment being kitted out to your needs, you’ll need to think about your living arrangements. Babies don’t take up much space, especially in the early days. You can place a Moses basket anywhere and the baby should be in your bedroom for at least six months, so there’s no panic to up-size. But, believe me, it’s easier to move when you’re pregnant than when you’ve got another tiny little life to consider. So, if you want to get somewhere bigger or somewhere closer to schools, work or family- now might be a good time.
7. Are You Ready For a New Life?
When you have a baby, nothing is ever the same. Now you probably think about your partner, your job and your social life. It’s OK to be selfish. With a baby, their needs will have to come first. Lazy Sunday lie-ins, parties and hangovers can be impossible, especially in the first few months. Believe me, it’s absolutely worth it. But you need to be ready and the timing needs to be right.
But the big question for you and your partner is ‘do you feel ready?’ Having a baby is a big leap into the unknown. No amount of spreadsheet writing and box ticking can replace your own instincts. Whether you’re planning a baby or they’re arriving as a wonderful surprise, can I wish you all the very best in your new life adventure.