When it’s time to start growing your family, you want to do it at a pace that suits you. Maybe that means having as many children as possible in as little time as possible. It could be exactly three children with three years between each of them. Or perhaps you’re going to go the “one and done” route. Whatever your plans are, you can’t always plan your family exactly as you want it. However, there are ways for you to try and plan so that your family is the size you want it and your children come along at a time that works for you.
Making Plans for Your Family
Family planning begins with thinking about what your ideal family looks like. While it’s important to keep in mind that the results might not match up to your ideal, it’s definitely worth thinking about what you want. How many children do you want? How many years do you want between them? You might want to avoid, for example, having two children under four at the same time. On the other hand, you might want to have your children close together so that they all start school within a few years of each other.
Everyone has different things that they might want and different reasons too. You might want to consider your financial situation and other factors that affect the size of your family and when you want to start growing your family.
Allow Yourself to Reassess
Making plans for growing your family is a good idea, but you also need to recognise that not everything goes to plan. Things could happen sooner or later than you wanted. You could also end up changing your mind. Maybe you thought you wanted three children, but after one, you decide that you don’t want any more. Of course, this is something that you need to discuss with your partner. You might talk about what your family will look like before you get married or commit to each other, but either of you could change your mind at a later date. It’s ok to reassess what you want. In fact, it’s better to really consider what you want, instead of forcing yourself to go through with something that you’re unsure about.
Find the Right Contraception
The right contraception is a big part of successful family planning. It helps you to control when you get pregnant and can even prevent you from getting pregnant ever again. There are many different options to consider, although unfortunately most of them fall to women to manage. Many forms of contraception have excellent success rates and combining two types of contraception, such as the pill and condoms, can protect you even further. It can take a while to find what works for you, especially as hormonal contraceptives can have various side effects. And, while the chance of pregnancy is extremely small when using contraceptives responsibly, the only way to prevent pregnancy 100% is to not engage in any sexual activity.
Learn About Emergency Contraception
It’s always worth keeping in mind that accidents can happen. If a condom breaks, you forget to take your pill or something else goes wrong, you need to know what you want to do. Ideally, you would talk about this with your partner before something happens. Will you use an emergency contraceptive, or will you just wait to see what happens and accept a pregnancy? To be most effective, an emergency contraceptive needs to be used quickly, but make sure you’re aware of the morning after pill side effects. It’s an effective way of preventing pregnancy, but it shouldn’t be used too often. It’s a backup plan, not a primary form of contraception.
What If Things Happen Sooner Than Planned?
Family planning doesn’t always work out as you want it to. If you’re planning on growing your family, you should think about what you might do if things move a bit quicker than you had planned. If you give yourself a year to get pregnant, but it happens in the first month of trying, will it matter? What if your second child might make an appearance sooner than you had originally intended? For many people, growing their family a little faster than intended won’t matter. But it’s possible it could upset your plans in other parts of your life, such as your career, or have a big impact on your finances.
When Should You Have the Next One?
When you’re thinking about growing your family, you might be unsure about the size of the gap you should leave between children. There are lots of things to think about, both in terms of how old your children will be and the other things happening in your life. Having two children under two can be chaotic, but there’s something to be said for getting the baby and toddler stuff over with in a shorter period. Leaving a little more space can give you some breathing room, but means you’ve got to go back to dealing with an infant after saying goodbye to that stage.
Leave four or more years means your first child could be in school when the next one comes along. However, a larger age difference might mean your kids don’t bond as strongly. And what about your careers? Will they be affected more or less by having children further apart in age?
Consider Your Health (and Your Baby’s)
When you’re planning your family, you should also take your health into account, as well as the health of your baby. Studies have shown that getting pregnant less than 18 months or more than 59 months after your last birth increases your chances of premature birth or low birth weight for your baby. Less than six months between pregnancies can raise the risk of uterine rupture if you have a vaginal birth after a caesarean, as well as placental problems and anaemia. More than five years between births could increase the risk of preeclampsia or difficult labour.
Planning your family can help you to grow it at a pace that works for you. However, it’s a good idea to be prepared for the unexpected.