Should you have a baby?

Baby Hunger


My mom did a pretty good job teaching me the facts of life, considering she was an anti-contraception, pro-life, abstinence-only Catholic mother of eight. After she told me how it all worked, she said women wanted to have sex most of all when they were ovulating because that’s when they’d get pregnant. If I didn’t want a baby, I shouldn’t have sex no matter what. If I was married and old enough, well then, that was a different matter. If I got “baby hunger” I’d know when to “do it.” She warned me, baby hunger made women do things they probably shouldn’t in order to feed the craving.

I guess she knew what she was talking about. I was her eighth baby. When she gave me “the talk,” I already knew about birth control. Baby hunger, however, was an intriguing concept. The first time I felt it I was 15 and begged my mom to let me adopt a baby boy from a Mexican orphanage. She wouldn’t even let me adopt a puppy from the pound but I give her credit for not laughing outright. After she told me what a hair-brained idea it was, she reminded me about baby hunger and suggested I find another way to channel my brand new shiny nurturing instinct, like babysitting.

Women (and a couple men) have emailed telling me how they’re starving for a baby, but the timing’s no good. Readers whose husbands have left them, women without insurance, teenagers, married and unmarried women, women still in school, unemployed women, a man who’s desperate for fatherhood and 30-something women worrying it’s too late. They want to know what to do with this hunger.

In the maternity unit we see the results of baby hunger in age groups. It first hits around age 14. Some girls want, want, want babies of their own. Most know it’s about the dumbest thing they could do (though adopting a baby made sense to me) and most don’t get pregnant deliberately but still…babies happen. Call it estrogen poisoning. Mother Nature wants the species to survive and hasn’t paid attention to the census polls that say we have plenty of babies, thanks. Leave the teenagers alone, Ma.

It strikes again shortly after high school when young women are technically adults but don’t have much of an education or employable skills. Then it comes around again about every five years: Ages 23-24 (right after college as the answer to “what to do with my life now), 28-29 (new marriages, new careers, now, how about a baby), 33-34 (mature, secure and ready) and then late 30s (uh-oh, clock’s a’tickin). This is not based on scientific study but my own rudimentary sociological observations.

Should women give in to baby hunger no matter what their circumstances? No, but I remember the craving. I firmly believe no one should have a baby until they’re fully capable of paying for all its expenses and meeting all of its physical, educational, spiritual and emotional needs. And yet, I had my first baby while I was in nursing school. I was married and old enough but getting pregnant before graduation was a dumb idea. My mom was seriously ill and I wanted to have a baby while she was still around. Man-oh-man, I wanted one and couldn't wait. So, the “master plan” and common sense went straight out the window and I got pregnant. Then, once the pump was primed, I got pregnant again. I graduated three days before having my second daughter - a really dumb idea that worked out but was super tough.

So, my answer about what to do with baby hunger is: I really don’t know, honey. Please don’t deliberately get pregnant if you’re not capable of raising a child well, or because you’re afraid it’ll be too late or so your husband won’t leave you. Have one because your life is ready and your heart is open to whatever curveballs a baby might throw because I guarantee they’ll smack your target bulls-eye.

Jeanne Faulkner, R.N., lives in Portland, Oregon with her husband and five children. Got a question for Jeanne? E-mail it to and it may be answered in a future blog post.

This Fit Pregnancy blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician. Before initiating any exercise program, diet or treatment provided by Fit Pregnancy, you should seek medical advice from your primary caregiver.