Times have changed. Couples are now living together for years, sometimes even decades, before choosing to grow their family (with or without a wedding ring). Other couples follow the more traditional route- date for a few years, get married and start having children. With so many different ideas about the modern family, there is no single way to perfect family timing.
The Working Couple
Working couples carry the huge burden of balancing work, life and family. The average maternal age is on the rise as a result. If children are in your future as a couple, you need to talk about when to work on growing your family – preferably while the female partner is in her fertile prime. Fertility starts to decline after the age of 35 and significant decline is noted after age 40. While women do conceive after 40, risk of birth defects and fertility problems increase.
The Married Couple with Children
For the couple who have already started a family, choosing to grow your family is a different kind of decision. While finances and family life play an important role in the decision to grow one's family, a woman's physical preparation is the ultimate decider. The female body is excellent at natural spacing thanks to lactation amenorrhea. With dedicated breastfeeding, ovulation stops, making it impossible to conceive. When baby moves from solely consuming breast milk to also eating solid food, ovulation is likely to return, making pregnancy possible.
Though timing differs for each woman, natural spacing tends to work in two year blocks – baby number two would be conceived when baby number one is a little more than one year old. That would bring the expected due date of baby number two right around baby number one’s second birthday. For mothers who choose not to breastfeed, the same spacing can be used with birth control taking the place of lactation amenorrhea.
In the real world finances play an important role in family planning decisions. Medical care, income, childcare and other financial factors will need to be addressed before making the final decision. The majority of the financial burden of a new baby lies in diapers, formula (if you do not breastfeed) and medical care in the first two to three years of life. Some couples find adding another child to the family more financially responsible when the youngest child is finally out of diapers and formula – opening a spot in family finances to address the needs of another baby.