Are You Ready?

It seems that we’re planning things all the time…from small things like what to make for dinner and what to do over the weekend, to larger things like vacations, career moves, weddings, retirement funds, and buying a home. One area, though, that women may forget to include in their plans is children. Young women in particular may think that decisions about having children and family size come later in life. Unfortunately, without planning, about half of all women who become pregnant in the U.S. each year, do so unexpectedly. This includes young women who are not married as well as older women who are married and may already have a few children.

So, if you agree that making plans for your future family is important, how do you get started? To begin, you can ask yourself these questions:

  • Do I want to have children someday?
  • If no or not sure, what are my plans for making sure I do not become pregnant?
  • If yes, how many would I like to have?
  • How old do I want to be when I become a mother?
  • How many years do I want to have in between children?

It is important to consider things other than pregnancy or children in your reproductive life plan, too. Ask yourself:

  • Where do I see myself in the next five years?
  • Do I want to be in a committed relationship?
  • How much education do I want?
  • What kind of job would I like to have?
  • Do I plan to be a stay-at-home parent?

Be honest with your answers—maybe even write them down in your journal. For more information about specific health topics based on your answers, click on the list below that fits where you are now.

Remember, your plans may change. But if you have a plan now, then you are more likely to be in the driver’s seat for this very important part of your life.

Not Now

Do you have other things on your “to do” list than having a baby? If yes, there are some things you must do now to make sure “baby” does not show up on your list unexpectedly.

The first thing is to talk with your health care provider about a birth control method that is right for you. Be honest in your conversation with your health care provider. Ask LOTS of questions. Make sure you know how to use the method and what to do if you think you may have made an error. Click here to find great links to get you started.

Remember to protect yourself. Many birth control methods do not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). So if you have multiple partners or are not in a monogamous relationship, you should use condoms every time you have sex. STIs, if untreated, can not only make you sick, but they might interfere with your future dreams of having a family.

Take a multivitamin every day. Women are busy and may not always make the time to eat as healthy as they should. Taking a multivitamin every day is one quick and inexpensive way you can take care of yourself.

Make sure that you keep eating smart and moving more. Stay up to date on your vaccinations and health screenings. The healthier you are, the more likely you are able to achieve your dreams in life. For more information on health topics related to your age-group, visit the Women’s Health at Any Age section of this website.

Maybe Someday

So you’re thinking about having a baby someday. Your body has been ready to have a baby for a while, but now you are warming up to the idea, too. While the prospect of parenthood can be thrilling, it can also be a little scary.

See below to see the major guidelines to follow when planning a pregnancy:

So you’re ready to start a very exciting journey. Congratulations! Now it is more important than ever to focus on your own health and wellness. Here are some things that you need to start to do now (before you are pregnant). Why now? A baby’s organs begin to form in the first four weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant. So it is important that women are healthy before they become pregnant.

See below to read about some things you can do to get ready:

Ready Again

Thinking about bringing another little one into this world? Now that you know what it’s like to have a child/children already, you might feel a little more prepared for additional babies. However, it is still important to plan each pregnancy before you get pregnant. Getting pregnant too soon after giving birth can be risky. Use a birth control method until you are sure you are ready to start trying again.

If you or your baby had complications during a previous pregnancy or delivery, it is especially important for you to take care of your health now and reduce the risk to you and your future babies.

Click on the headings below to find out some important things before getting pregnant again:

I Just Had One

Congratulations! You have just been through an amazing journey. We bet that you are also a little bit tired and focused on fitting your new baby into your life.

We have found that new mothers’ needs often fall to second, third or even lower place on the family totem pole once a new baby comes along. But YOUR health is very important for the whole family.

Click on the headings below to read some important tips for you as you get through this stage of motherhood:

All Done

Your arms are full, your life is busy, and you have completed your plan for the number of children you want in your life. Congratulations!

It is important to take time in the middle of your very busy life, to talk with your health care provider about the birth control method that is right for you now. You may want to consider permanent methods of birth control for you or your partners or a long-acting contraceptive method. Remember that permanent and long-acting contraceptive methods do not protect you from sexually transmitted infections (STIs). So if you have multiple partners or are not in a monogamous relationship, you should use condoms every time you have sex.

Take a multivitamin every day. Women are busy and may not always make the time to eat as healthy as they should. Taking a multivitamin every day is one quick and inexpensive way you can take care of yourself.

Make sure that you keep exercising and stress management in your daily planner. Stay up to date on your vaccinations and health screenings. Your family needs YOU to stay healthy. Check out the “Healthy at any age” section of this site for good information about wellness for women.

 

Some content provided by:
Are you ready?: Sex and Your Future from the N.C. Department of Public Health.
March of Dimes Foundation; the publication, “Are you ready for a baby?” can be found at marchofdimes.org/catalog or by calling 800-367-6630. This is item #09-2385-08.
Office on Women’s Health in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Visit http://www.womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/childbirth-beyond/recovering-from-birth.cfm for more.