Should I have a baby?
Being pregnant can be an overwhelming time in your life. There are hormones going on as well as serious decisions to be made. Once you get the positive test, a real discussion needs to be had about whether parenthood is for you. Just know that you're not alone, The Mix is here to hold your hand and help you through it.
So you’ve taken a pregnancy test and it’s positive. Tonnes of questions start buzzing through your head: Should I keep my baby? How will I cope? Where will we live? Can I afford it? What about my studies?
How to decide to keep a baby
Deciding whether or not to keep a baby is a big decision, but the important thing to remember is this is YOUR decision and no one else’s. There’s no point in asking Google or us ‘Should I keep my baby?’ because The Mix can’t make this choice for you. But we can help you explore your feelings. Here are some of the things you should consider asking yourself whilst figuring out how to decide to keep a baby. You might need slightly more than a pros and cons list.
How did you feel when you first found out you were pregnant?
What was your initial reaction? Was it horror? Happiness? Confusion? It’s worth coming back to this initial response when you’re deciding whether to have a baby. It’s all too easy to override your instinct with logic but often, your gut knows best.
So, if your first thought was “I’m really pleased”, but now you’ve got bogged down with thinking about the practicalities, remind yourself that you were initially happy. Yes, the practicalities and logistics need huge consideration, but you can overcome all of those hurdles if you’re truly committed to having the baby.
How do you feel about being pregnant now?
It’s hardly a secret that pregnancy can be a challenge. What with morning sickness, odd cravings, and your body changing dramatically. Then, of course, there’s the birth itself which – well, let’s be honest – isn’t exactly something people are lining up to do.
How does thinking about this make you feel? Do you feel ready to go through such a life-changing process? It’s also worth remembering that all of this is the relatively easy part compared to actually being a parent. Of course, it’s natural for women of any age to be nervous of the whole pregnancy/birth thing – but it’s more about whether you feel ready to take it on, despite your fears.
How do you feel about your relationship?
We’re assuming your pregnancy wasn’t an immaculate conception, so it’s worth examining your relationship with the father or your current partner and the impact of adding a child to the equation. This should definitely be a major factor of consideration in the ‘Should I keep my baby?’ decision. Is your relationship stable? Do you want to raise a child with this person? Can you imagine them being a good parent? If not, how do you feel about doing all this by yourself? How do you feel about not having a partner to raise your child with? Doing a bit of soul searching, especially with regards to these questions, could help you make a decision.
The practicalities of having a child
So, you’ve thought about how you feel. Congrats! You’ve made it halfway through contemplating ‘Should I have a baby?’ Now it might be worth looking at the actual practicalities of having a child and deciding whether it’s something you could do. Here are some things to consider if you’re ready to be a parent:
Babies aren’t cheap. You’ll be financially responsible for their food, clothes, nappies, and providing a warm roof over their head. If you want to continue working or want to study, can you afford childcare?
Still in education? Or only just got into the world of work? How will having a child affect your work life? How will you finish your A-levels/degree (if you want to)? Does your company offer good maternity leave? Choosing to be a parent is an amazing adventure, but it does put all your other adventures on hold for a while.
The baby phase is relatively short-lived. Consider not only if you want to take on an infant, but a toddler, a child – even a moody teenager. Because the baby will be all those things, often in the blink of an eye. Throughout this time you’ll be going through the process of choosing how to parent and raise a child. This includes things like religious beliefs, work life, social media use and the list goes on.
It’s the little things that people don’t realise they’ll miss about being child free. Just a simple thing like going to the cinema becomes more complicated with a child. You have to figure out childcare or end up taking them with you, which means paying attention to them instead of the movie . Want a night out? You’ll need a baby-sitter. But even if you do get a sitter – your baby won’t stop crying the next day just because you have a hangover.
Hard bloody work
Raising children is a full-time, 24-hour-job that goes on for 18 years, sometimes even more. Think about how you’ll cope with sleepless nights, round-the-clock feeding and nappy changing. Then moving onto school runs, and chauffeuring them and their friends.
Of course, this isn’t to suggest having a baby would be an awful, life-ruining experience. Just because it was an unplanned pregnancy, doesn’t mean it was an unwanted pregnancy. In fact, it’ll probably be the most rewarding thing you’ve ever done. But it’s important to consider the realities and how you feel you’ll manage. Especially when you’re going into it at a young age compared to your 30s.
Talk to someone
Don’t feel you have to go through this by yourself. Yes, the answer to the question ‘Should I have a baby?’ is ultimately yours, but it’s important to voice your feelings.Make sure to talk through your emotions with a trusted friend or relative. If you don’t feel you have anyone to turn to, then speak to your GP, or ring your local sex clinic, Brook, FPA, or Marie Stopes.
Be aware of organisations that claim to advertise ‘impartial’ pregnancy or abortion advice, as they’re sometimes strongly anti-abortion. They may pressure you into keeping your baby even if it’s not the best decision for you. Make sure you’re seeking help from a trusted source. You can do this by doing research and getting a second-opinion throughout the entire process.
Taking your time
Deciding whether to keep a baby is hard enough, but to make it even more difficult, there’s a time limit. Alongside adoption, one of your pregnancy options is abortion, and the procedure is easier the earlier you have it. Ideally, you would want to have an abortion in the first nine weeks. Also, if you’re considering having the baby you ideally need to tell your GP ASAP so they can organise your antenatal care.
The important thing to remember is that you’re not alone in any of this. Try talking to a trusted friend, family member or teacher about what you’re going through. The Mix team are always there to help too.
- Brook provides free sexual health and wellbeing services for young people in the UK. Brook's services include local clinics and online digital sex and relationships tool.
- FPA give sexual health advice. For Northern Ireland helpline call 0345 122 8687.
- Chat about this subject on our Discussion Boards.
- Need help but confused where to go locally? Download our StepFinder iPhone app to find local support services quickly.
By Nishika Melwani
Updated on 20-Nov-2021
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