Pressure to get pregnant

“The best thing Kate Middleton can do for herself now is to produce an heir as quickly as possible.” If you are a newly wed and also feeling the pressure to produce a baby bump, read Lisa Marsh’s tips on how to maintain your privacy, preconception health and sanity!

Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge

Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge. Photo: James Whatling / Splash News

After the wedding
Pitter patter hints
Family expectations
Tips for new brides

After the wedding

I heard a comment in the post-Royal Wedding reviews to the effect that “the best thing Kate can do for herself now is to produce an heir as quickly as possible.” The comment has lingered with me all week, producing a little personal outrage. Now the honeymoon is over and wearing the lighter clothes of summer, Kate Middleton, now the Duchess of Cambridge, will undoubtedly have the long lens of the paparazzi focused on every fold and shadow of her clothing, speculating on whether there is a baby-bump. Poor Kate and William!

Pitter patter…

It’s exaggerated with celebrities; however, the pressure to “go forth and multiply” is still present in many new marriages. It can begin right at the wedding reception with jokes and comments about what the happy couple will be getting up to that night. Just as intrusive are direct questions, such as “so, when will we hear the pitter-patter of little feet?” or frequent comments like “we can’t wait for grandchildren.” If you can ignore or laugh off these hints, that’s great. If you’re particularly sensitive about this issue or very private, you may feel hurt by, or resentful of, these not-so-subtle pressures.

Family expectations

Most couples these days have consummated their relationship prior to marriage, many having already cohabited while meandering toward a legal commitment or saving enough money for the wedding. Still, there’s a traditional assumption that once married, a couple will get down to the business of creating a family. To be fair, with the stigma of living together thankfully in decline, having children is often the reason that a long-time couple is getting married. But, I say, “in your own time.”

If you’re getting married, but either in no rush to have that first baby, or you are trying, but prefer to keep it to yourselves until a pregnancy is achieved, here are some tips for maintaining your privacy, your pre-conception health and your sanity in the meantime.

Once the wedding festivities are over:

  1. Do a general health check in the normal course of events. Both women and men should see their GP, mentioning any prior health issues, such as poor energy levels, insomnia or fluctuations in weight. Specific areas of concern, such as hormone levels, blood sugar or nutritional deficiencies should be investigated to reveal underlying conditions;
  2. It takes two to tango – “Readiness” for parenthood can be difficult to gauge, but agreeing the timing of this fundamental decision is vital for the success of your relationship. Talk about what it will mean to you, and the changes that will result;
  3. Life is a balancing act. You may want time together as a couple before parenthood, but you must think ahead and consider your age when deciding how long to wait. Women have a finite number of eggs that diminishes as they age, most seriously after age 35. Men can produce viable sperm for a much longer period of their lives. That being said, both maternal and paternal age can have an effect on the way that an embryo develops. Consider your age relative to how many children you would ideally like to have;
  4. Put good lifestyle changes into effect now to promote a healthy pregnancy later. There’s no time like the present to stop smoking, lower your intake of alcohol and caffeine, bring your Body Mass Index (BMI) into a healthy range and reduce your stress levels. By starting now and maintaining better habits over a period of time, you will have consistently good health as a basis for pregnancy. A bonus: people won’t have cause to question a drastic change in lifestyle when you do begin trying to conceive;
  5. Be prepared with a brief and pleasant response to intrusive questions. Humour may best be answered with humour. However, if the questions are more pointed, try “we would love to have a family someday,” swiftly followed by a change of subject. A firmer response might be “when there’s news to share, you will know;”
  6. Think like a team; act like a team – A united front is the greatest defence to pressure, whether it’s cultural, parental, social or otherwise. If the two of you know where you stand, you can agree who and what you will tell about your future baby plans;
  7. Give people the benefit of the doubt – Thankfully, most of us don’t have to deal with paparazzi or intrusive gossip magazines in our lives. The interest other people show in our family plans have a lot to do with what they value most in their own lives and their desire for us to be happy and fulfilled. This can be a good thing, but it may not line up with what you want for yourself, or its delivery can be unintentionally insensitive. If you can think that their behaviour is more about them than it is about you, it may be easier to let it go.

Ultimately, when you will try to conceive is a private matter between you and your partner. It will be easier to disregard other people’s questions, opinions and pressure if you are content with your decision.  If you are undecided or anticipate having difficulty conceiving, give yourself the gift of time by following these tips.

Photograph: www.splash.co.uk

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