How do you know if you're ready to get pregnant? In all honesty, you might never feel like you have arrived at the perfect moment to have your first, or another, child. However, there are ways to predict how prepared you are to make that life-altering decision. Try measuring yourself using the following criteria.
Studies have shown that children fare best in households where they have two parents to care for them. According to sociologist Paul Amato, "compared with other children, those who grow up in stable, two-parent families have a higher standard of living, receive more effective parenting, experience more cooperative co-parenting, are emotionally closer to both parents, and are subjected to fewer stressful events and circumstances." So make sure that your relationship with your significant other is strong and stable before trying to add another variable into the mix. If your relationship isn't as strong as you'd like it to be, try attending some marriage classes or couple's counseling sessions.
No, you don't have to have $10,000 in the bank, your house paid off, and a management position before having kids, but it can't hurt to take a look at how a child will affect your economic circumstances. How much do kids cost? A recent government report estimates "a middle-income family may spend $234,900 to raise a child born in 2011 to the age of 18." That's not including college. You can also use the USDA child cost calculator to get a more personalized cost estimate. The bottom line is: Kids don't come cheap. Make sure you'll be able to afford the new little mouth to feed before getting pregnant and you'll relieve your mind of some stress.
Health & energy levels
Being pregnant is no walk in the park, and it's not until after those nine months are over that the really hard part begins. The mother's health prior to getting pregnant can have enormous impacts on the health of the fetus. That's why doctors recommend women start taking a prenatal vitamin several months before attempting to conceive. You'll also want to be sure that you'll be up to the task of raising that child once he or she is born. There is no vacation or sick leave from being a parent, after all.
In a physical sense, do you have room in your home for another little body? That little body comes with a lot of extra stuff, and experienced parents can tell you babies don't stay tiny for long. Having a small living space shouldn't dissuade you from having a child; you might just have to get creative with furniture arrangements to make it work. Think of it as a good time to simplify your life - or invest in a storage unit.
Even if your answers to the questions suggested by these categories aren't encouraging, don't give up hope. People experience unexpected pregnancies all the time, and it really will work out in the end. You can, however, prevent a lot of the anxiety related to pregnancy if you take the time beforehand to plan how your new little one will fit into your life.