If you’re like most new mothers (except for freakishly fit Heidi Klum, who seems unfairly untouched by this dilemma), around your little bundle’s first birthday you’ll start considering the following predicament: Do I (1) get really serious about fitting into my pre-pregnancy jeans now or (2) screw the waistline because I’m going to try to get pregnant again anyway?
Though the decision to expand the family further is more complicated than this, it’s often around the time when Baby No. 1 becomes more mobile and independent that your mind turns to the possibility of another tot.
If the next baby is on your brain, here are important factors to deliberate beyond whether your maternity underwear continues to get prime drawer space.
Sure, you can leverage your investment in baby accoutrements from round one (especially if you were smart enough to go gender-neutral with all the gear), and now that you’re a savvy, scrappy mom, you know all about scoring stuff at consignment sales and finding online coupons for essentials. But beware that there are only so many economies of scale with siblings.
Maybe Baby No. 1 squeezed in back of your Honda Civic, but two bambinos on board just won’t work, or perhaps your abode is already at maximum capacity and you’ll need to move. Though babysitters and childcare facilities often offer concessions for siblings, your overall childcare bills will be much higher. Also, health insurance premiums could go up, and surely you’ll want to boost your life insurance policy to cover another child. Plus, there’s saving for college. It’s worth crunching the numbers to understand the bigger financial burden.
Your health and well-being
Even if you were fortunate enough to avoid acute nausea, gestational diabetes, postpartum depression and other serious medical issues from your first pregnancy, you should consider these possibilities the second time around—with a child already in your charge. What will you do if you’re put on bed rest or simply puking out your guts daily and you have a rambunctious toddler who needs your attention? At the very least, note that prenatal aches and pains often are felt earlier and more intensely with subsequent pregnancies. Consider how you’ll cover these kinds of contingencies before getting pregnant again.
Does the thought of two kids in diapers or having to navigate the world with a gargantuan double stroller make you shudder? Conversely, are you anxious to avoid having children at vastly different development and activity levels, or are you approaching an age when fertility and other complications are more of an issue? First and foremost, is your first child ready for a sibling?
There’s plenty of advice out there about the ideal age spread between offspring, and many child development experts agree that waiting until your first child is at least 30 months old and has achieved a certain level of independence and confidence might be best for everyone. Still, there’s no magic number, nor guarantee that your children will be best friends and your logistics easier no matter how the pregnancies are spaced. Your first child’s temperament is more important than a calendar, as is your readiness and ability to care adequately for more children.
In the end, the decision to have another baby may come down to a gut feeling, so consider all the factors but also trust your motherly instincts. They’re well-honed by this point.
Katherine is a freelance writer and mother of two children who gave her equally as awful morning sickness and prenatal heartburn.