It’s time that we stop asking women when they are having babies! This is one of the most insensitive questions you can ask a woman today. There are so many reasons a woman does not have a child right now, and all of those reasons are valid. This question can make women feel inadequate for many reasons. Let’s talk about why we need to stop asking women when they are having babies.
Reasons to Stop Asking Women About Having Babies
Many couples go through fertility struggles and spend years trying to conceive. The CDC reports that “about 6% of married women aged 15 to 44 years in the United States are unable to get pregnant after one year of trying (infertility). Also, about 12% of women aged 15 to 44 years in the United States have difficulty getting pregnant or carrying a pregnancy to term (impaired fecundity).”1
Infertility is not just a problem facing women. The CDC also notes that “in about 35% of couples with infertility, a male factor is identified along with a female factor. In about 8% of couples with infertility, a male factor is the only identifiable cause.”1 Couples who struggle with infertility will undergo endless testing to determine the underlying cause. If they ultimately decide to try to conceive, they may undergo multiple rounds of Clomid, IUI, or IVF cycles. The struggle with infertility is profoundly emotional and personal. Asking when someone is having a baby while they’re struggling with infertility can trigger the individual impacted.
Some individuals are born with or are carriers of genetic disorders that could create a lifelong struggle for a child born with that same genetic condition. Some genetic conditions can be fatal if passed down or create a more challenging life for a child and their family. With genetic concerns, there is always a chance that your offspring will not inherit that gene. However, these concerns are valid reasons not to want to conceive a biological child if a couple does not want to take that risk.
Lack of Reproductive Organs
Some women may not have the reproductive organs required to carry and deliver a child. Perhaps they were born without a full reproductive system. Full or partial hysterectomies can be recommended for multiple reasons for women of childbearing age. A lack of reproductive organs will make a woman unable to conceive or carry a pregnancy.
For many women, the lack of reproductive organs is not a choice. Either they were born that way or underwent a life-saving operation and lost those organs. Either way, dealing with the lack of or sudden loss of your reproductive organs is an unimaginable situation and yet another example that we do not know what is happening inside a woman’s body at any time.
It is estimated that approximately one in four pregnancies result in a miscarriage.2 However, this number is an estimate as many women miscarry before knowing they are pregnant. I am sadly part of this statistic. Imagine so badly wanting a pregnancy and baby of your own and having a miscarriage or stillbirth. It is a situation that no woman wants to find themselves in, yet so many of us do. Emotionally, it may take some time after a pregnancy loss to want to try and conceive again. One of the worst things that a woman can hear who has suffered from pregnancy loss is someone asking them when they plan to have children.
Childfree by Choice
Some women or couples have no desire to have children. “Childfree by Choice” is a global movement, and it merely means that there is no specific reason for an individual or couple to choose not to have children. Pew Research has found that “44% of non-parents ages 18 to 49 say it is not too or not at all likely that they will have children someday.”3 This does not mean people who subscribe to “Childfree by Choice” do not like children. It’s quite the opposite! We have several friends who are childfree by choice, and they love our son as if he were their own. Several factors drive this decision, including the economy, financial constraints, the political environment and state of the world, and environmental reasons.
You shouldn’t need a reason to stop asking women when they are having babies. Their reproductive decisions are not someone else’s business! If you ever feel the urge, put yourself in their shoes. This also applies if a woman has one child, and someone asks them when they are having subsequent children. They might only want one child, or other circumstances preclude them from having more children. It is best to keep your curiosity to yourself in this situation. If a woman chooses to share her desire or lack thereof to have children with you, hopefully, these reasons help you understand her perspective.