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The Decision to Have a Baby or Two

These exercises can help you decide on having a baby.

Key points

  • The decision to have a baby or remain child-free is one of the biggest you’ll make.
  • Values, decision-making, and narrative frameworks are useful for these decisions.
  • These exercises can facilitate thoughtful and intentional decision-making and discussions.
nappy / Pexels
Source: nappy / Pexels

Deciding whether or not to have a baby or further expand your family is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in your lifetime. As such, it can be a difficult decision-making process for many.

Because of the multiple competing factors that go into making this decision, it can be helpful to have a framework for guiding decision-making and discussions if you are making this decision with a partner. As such, below are several exercises to help you be more intentional in your decision-making and discussions about entering parenthood for the first or a subsequent time.


Values help orient us to what is most meaningful in life and can help guide decision-making. When our values are aligned with our behaviors and life choices, we tend to feel and live better—when they are not, we tend to suffer. Values are different for different people and can change throughout our lives. As such, if you engage in the exercise below and decide against adding a(nother) baby to your family today, it can be worth revisiting because of the capacity for change.

Take some time and reflect on your values. Below are a few examples of values to consider:

  • Nurturing – to care for others
  • Adventure – to explore and seek out new experience
  • Connection – to be present and engage with others
  • Family – to have a family
  • Freedom – to live freely with spontaneity
Josh Willink / Pexels
Source: Josh Willink / Pexels

While values can’t tell you whether or not you should have a baby, reflecting on your values allows you to consider how aligned family building is with what you believe to be important in life. It will also help you evaluate what values need to be reviewed with flexibility. For example, if you strongly value adventure and decide to have a baby, how can you maintain this important part of your identity? It does not have to be an either/or.

Future Thinking

Another exercise is to imagine your future self in one, five, or 10 years after the decision to have a(nother) baby. Now repeat this exercise, after the decision not to have a(nother) baby. Imagine what your life would look like in each of these future scenarios. Be as descriptive as possible about what your life would be like. Share this description with your partner if you are in a partnership.

  • Where are you?
  • Who are you with? What do your relationships and family look like?
  • How do you feel?
  • What are you doing? What’s going on around you?
  • How did you get here?
Vidal Balielo Jr. / Pexels
Source: Vidal Balielo Jr. / Pexels

Building on the previous exercise, you can also reflect on how each imagined scenario reflects (or doesn’t) your values. The last question in the bulleted list (i.e., how did you get here?) is important because it reflects the family-building process and what you envision for your reproductive story.

Reproductive Story

A person’s reproductive story is the narrative we develop about what it will be like to be a parent. It is our hopes and dreams about creating and having a family, the visions of what our children will be like, and how we will parent them. Because much of this narrative is unconscious and begins developing in early childhood, it might not be obvious until we stop and bring it into awareness. The piece of the reproductive story I encourage you to consider is how you envision creating a family (i.e., the question “How did you get here?” from the previous exercise).

You can ask the following questions:

When you (and your partner) think about the family-building process, is it important to you and them to:

  • Have a biological tie to your children?
  • Carry a pregnancy and give birth?
  • Have multiple children, so there are siblings?
  • Have children of a certain sex or other biological characteristics?

Answers to some of these questions may help guide and expand family-building options.

Current Life—What Would Change?

Source: wild little things / Pexels
Source: wild little things / Pexels

If you decide not to add a(nother) baby your life can likely continue similarly to the present. On the other hand, as much as we would like to fantasize about adding a(nother) baby to our lives, it is also important to think about the real and logistical changes this entails. Spend some time thinking about this and the feasibility of adding a(nother) baby to your life. While child expenses can vary widely based on multiple factors (e.g., location, childcare, insurance, first versus subsequent child, etc.), it will be important to take a realistic account of what costs will be associated with adding a(nother) child. In addition to financial costs, you should consider other potential costs—costs to your relationships, health, career, etc. These are other important areas for consideration and conversation between you and your partner.


Only you (and your partner) can decide to bring a(nother) baby into your family. The hope of utilizing the exercises in this post is to help you move away from feeling pressured to make the “right” decision and instead help you choose in the right way—through thoughtful and intentional decision-making and discussion.

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