So possibly many of us decide in a rather chaotic way or by just 'seeing what happens' but clearly we are all making the decision from a different starting place. To fall pregnant by accident at 15 is very different to becoming pregnant at 30 or 46. We all approach parenthood from our own unique position, so does that make it more difficult for some than for others?
Most social studies of depression in women point to being at home looking after a child as putting you at greater risk for psychological ill-health, especially depression. Problems are not inevitable and having readily available forms of social support can be very useful. Ante-natal or parenting classes bring people together with other parents-to-be and these contacts with other people in the same situation are probably more useful than the explicit aims of the group.
Many people may approach having a family with a range of different needs. If you are disabled, you will give extra thought to how you will manage a baby and a growing child and what situations may present particular difficulty. Probably many issues cannot be foreseen, as for able-bodied parents, the issues that one child will present are different to another. You may also be looking into what extra support may be available from the statutory or voluntary bodies.
Most people are now aware of the possibility of post-natal depression following the birth of a baby and many try to take steps to have extra help and support at this time. We do, however, tend to overlook the fact that many women become pregnant while experiencing emotional difficulties or these problems develop in the pregnancy. Some women may be depressed, they may have had a manic episode that required hospital treatment, they may be struggling with an eating disorder or dealing with the effects of a difficult relationship: the list is endless. This may be related to the pregnancy in some way: there may be fears about the health of the baby, the pregnancy may have been ill-timed or these psychological difficulties may have been due to external factors: the loss of a job, relationship difficulties, family problems, financial worries, and so on. One could try to time a pregnancy when there are fewer pressures around but it would be almost impossible to plan a pregnancy at a time when everything is stable. Pregnancy lasts for the best part of a year and life around you will continue and many events, for example, bereavement, are out of our control.
How do we view the world ?
Having a baby is probably one of the most stressful life events that many of us will deal with. Our life, how we view ourselves and how others see us will radically change. There are social, emotional and financial costs involved in raising children so maybe it is not surprising that it all becomes too much at times and mothers especially are more prone to psychological difficulties. However, being ready to accept and face change and trying to adapt to it make it much more likely that this transition will be successful. Some people seem to adapt to new situations very easily and this seems to be to do with how they view life: the more reluctant you are to embrace change the more difficult you will find it. Generally, I found when working with people, helping them to deal with psychological problems, that the more that a person is willing to embrace new ideas, see things from a different perspective or try out new behaviours or responses, the more likely they are to be able to recover from their symptoms.
Unfortunately children do not always arrive into the ideal situation and there can be a conflict between what feels emotionally right and what is practically right. Again, the fact that pregnancy lasts a relatively long time, even if you feel yourself to be in a stable financial and practical position, things can come along during the course of the pregnancy that were unforeseen: redundancy, a housing problem, family crises, all manner of factors can change your readiness to become a parent.
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