If you have struggled with the decision about whether or not to have a baby or when might be the best time, then conception might appear to be the easy part and, for the majority, this is certainly the case. However, for some couples conception itself can be a difficult and uncertain experience.
It is perhaps true that the success of the contraceptive pill, which brought with it the idea of 'family planning', has contributed to the growth of problems with conception. That is not to suggest any adverse affects from the pill itself, more that the ability to avoid conception has created the erroneous belief that we control conception.With contraception came the idea of family planning: that couples decide, not 'God' or 'nature', as our grandparents may have believed. These factors set up certain expectations that children will arrive 'when I plan them' or 'when I stop taking the pill'. This, combined with technological/medical advances in assisted conception, has created a climate where we believe we can have babies on demand: timed to fit our life plan, ordered via the Internet if all else fails. How cruel then it is when months roll on and that longed-for pregnancy does not arrive.
Clearly, most of us cannot perfectly time a pregnancy since conception cannot reliably be switched 'on and off'. Conception may occur quite some time after we have decided that we want children and anywhere from one month to one year is deemed 'normal'. Perhaps this uncertainty is in fact helpful as it makes us aware from the outset that babies don't just fit in around the rest of your life. If you do get pregnant when you wanted to, you still can't be certain exactly when the baby will arrive: anywhere from 37 to 42 weeks is normal/full-term but some babies arrive earlier. Many couples haven't exactly planned their pregnancy but they are happy when they discover that they are pregnant. This isn't such a bad way to 'time' a baby since it releases you from the pressure of trying to find the 'perfect time'.
So the decision is made in a number of different ways but some trends do seem to be emerging. The age of first-time mothers appears to be getting older. The delaying of childbirth into the late twenties and thirties may partly be due to this sense that we can produce a baby on demand. However, statistically, fertility falls off rapidly in the thirties, especially after 35. Current trends to 'time' pregnancies around our social needs do therefore have associated risks. For the vast majority, family planning works very well in that parents can choose to time their conception when they feel emotionally and financially ready to have a child. However, the biological clock is ticking if you don't become pregnant quickly, and your age may well turn the situation into a problem.
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