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PREGNANCY AND CHILDBIRTH: REASONS FOR HAVING A BABY

Let us start by looking at why women have babies, because understanding the real motives for having a baby helps one understand the feelings, emotions and problems that can arise.

Reasons for having a baby-The first reason to consider is the cultural pressure to do so. The majority of people do get married and a large proportion of them have one baby or two. Our culture is still ‘pro-natalist’ – that is it reveres babies and makes them seem desirable objects. This is, of course, healthy and normal because the human race has to continue. However, even if we in the West stopped having babies the world’s population would still continue to rise alarmingly. Most people feel it is reasonable to have up to two babies to ‘replace themselves’ but in worldwide population terms this is no longer necessary or desirable. Increasing numbers of couples (about 10 per cent) are choosing not to have children.

Couples have babies for all kinds of different reasons, many of them quite unconscious. Some have them to prove to themselves and the world that they are grown-up and adult people. A person doing this usually has a poor view of him- or herself sexually or as a personality, and wants to do something the world cannot ignore. This motivation is fairly common in teenage marriages. Some couples have babies to secure a relationship. Before marriage a girl sometimes gets pregnant to make a man marry her but this is increasingly uncommon.

Within marriage some people have a baby to ‘save’ the relationship, thinking – usually wrongly – that a baby will mend their problems and bring them closer together. Such a baby may not be positively wanted or planned but is eventually welcomed nevertheless. Some young women have babies to keep up with friends.

An unfortunate motive, closely linked to the last one, is that a baby is sometimes seen as the next milestone in life – often under the influence of parents. For some women having a baby is a sign that she really loves her partner and for others it proves her female status. Bringing another person into the world to ‘prove’ such things is irresponsible.

There are many other reasons why couples have babies. There are, for example, genuine failures of contraception. Also, some – perhaps most – women have babies because of an innate drive to do so. It is almost impossible to say how important this latter reason is because the cultural pressures are so enormous. Many people, including some doctors, believe that a woman is not a ‘real’ woman until she has had a baby and that deep down all women really want babies. Some doctors even go so far as to claim that women ought to have babies. We cannot agree with any of these sentiments.

Ideally every baby should be positively wanted and it is the duty of every engaged couple to discuss carefully their views on the subject. There is little point in getting married to someone crazy about babies if you cannot stand them or want only one or two. Every couple should carefully evaluate their motives for having a baby and unless they both agree on them they should not have one. A baby is not a thing; he or she is a person who is probably going to live for scores of years and starting that process off is an awesome responsibility.

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