Will the Recession Postpone Your (Next) Pregnancy?

Filed under: Work Life

pregnant womanMortgage payments ballooning out of control. Companies laying off thousands and thousands of employees. Bank presidents marching before Congress and pleading for more and more money to bail them out.

Sounds like a terrible time to have a kid, doesn't it?

In times like these, the birth rate typically takes a dip, says The New York Times, which cited the Great Depression and the 1976 energy crisis as two examples of eras where the number of births declined. Will the current recession be the next baby bust?

If word on the street is any indication, the answer is a decided yes. Not only is pregnancy expensive, the economy is also taking its toll on relationships; marriages are strained as prospective parents wait to be laid off while keeping one wary eye on the dwindling balance in their bank account. That kind of stress seeps into every aspect of a relationship -- including the bedroom.

Less sex? Do the math.

What about couples who need a little help? Guess what -- infertility treatments are very pricey, even with health insurance. And adoption? Fees for for an international adoption typically start at $20,000, according to the Adoptive Families 2008 Adoption Guide. Even if you plan to adopt domestically, you're looking at up to $15,000.

Fewer natural pregnancies, fewer assisted pregnancies and fewer adoptions mean that more and more families will have less and less children. (Excluding, of course octuplet mom Nadya Suleman or The Duggars.) Or that others won't have any at all.

My husband and I decided to have a second child in November 2007, when the financial climate was balmy. When our son was born in August, gas was more than $4 a gallon and we cringed every time we got the mail, just waiting for that huge hospital bill.

And here's the kicker: we're card-carrying members of the "creative class" -- my husband is a full-time grad student and I'm a writer. At the time, we were on our way to financial stability. Not anymore. Today my son has fewer advantages than his sister did. Less money means no "Mommy and Me" class, no designer baby clothes and generic diapers and wipes.

Oh, we had big plans for our kids, including music lessons, science camp and private colleges. Now, if we're lucky, its a day program at the YMCA. I think about this when I'm stuffing the baby into pajamas way too small for him, hoping to eek out just one more month before we have to go buy new clothes. At Wal-Mart, mind you, not at a fancy baby boutique or even Baby Gap. But would I trade a bigger bank account for my son? Never.

Would I hesitate to make the same decision now? I don't want to think so. The recession is (I hope) finite. And even if it isn't, I wouldn't want to look back with regret because I traded a fat wallet for one less smile at my dinner table.

Will the recession postpone your pregnancy plans? Why or why not? Is it irresponsible to bring a baby into the world during these uncertain times?

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AdviceMama Says:
Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.