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How to Know You're Done Having Babies

Kierstin is a mom to two little girls and creator of the satirical podcast Really Good Advice for New Moms.


How to Know That You Don't Want Any More Kids

  1. Your partner doesn't want any more children
  2. You aren't planning to get a bigger vehicle or house in the near future and don't have room to fit another baby
  3. You're ready to jump back into your career
  4. You want to work from home
  5. You're broke
  6. You didn't finish college but you want to
  7. You have a pregnancy related health condition
  8. You want to travel

When my husband and I first got married we waffled back and forth on whether or not to start a family and if so, when. There were a lot of obvious variables to take into account - finances, our rickety car, our housing situation, our job situations - then life took over and there we were on our first wedding anniversary, waiting on our due date for our first babe. Less than a year after her birth we were washing the baby clothes, getting ready for the arrival of our second when we looked at each other and said, without hesitation "enough is enough."

Like every other parent who decides their family is complete, our reasons were varied and there were quite a few of them.

Deciding to start a family is complicated, but deciding to stop having babies can be too, especially because what's right for one family isn't necessarily right for another. Indeed, the magic number is different for every family and the reasons are as well. Whatever your reasons are, here are some things to consider if you and your partner are deciding on whether or not to expand or complete your family.

Your Partner Doesn't Want More Children

Though he was game for one more, my husband and I knew we were done having kids when I said with all certainty that I never wanted to be pregnant again. Although that may have bummed him out some, we went into our parenting partnership knowing that we're a team and as a team, both players have to be in the game or we're both going to lose (and so will the kids). If you want more children but your partner doesn't, take some time out to think on why you want more kids and why your partner doesn't.

Will the reasons change down the road (like a job switch)? Or, are they more permanent (for instance, my biggest reason for not wanting to have another child was a reoccurring pregnancy-related condition that I would never be able to change)?

How to Move Forward

If you're at an impasse, consider how your ability to effectively parent with your partner might change if they're no longer excited about the size of your family or if they feel overwhelmed by the reality of another couple of years of babyhood.

You Don't Plan to Upgrade Your Vehicle or Home in the Near Future

For some, this isn't a factor that holds much weight but for our family it was. We are happy with the size of our home and vehicle, both of which fit our family perfectly. If we had any more kids we'd have to upgrade both of them and since we live in a condo we can't just add another room onto our place. Adding another member to the family would mean selling the home we're in and finding and moving to a larger one on top of figuring out a new set of wheels with a third row - all things we're not prepared to do at this point in our lives.

How to Move Forward

If you're straddling the line between having another kiddo and closing up the baby-making factory, taking some time to think about how it will affect your current housing and vehicle situations will help to point you in the right direction, whatever that may be.

With the current housing market, moving into a bigger house to accommodate a growing family may be more than you can take on financially.

With the current housing market, moving into a bigger house to accommodate a growing family may be more than you can take on financially.

You Don't Handle Sleep Deprivation Well

This one was huge for me. While a lot of my friends were going back to work six-weeks postpartum and looking bright-eyed and bushy-tailed whenever we had baby playdates, I had some mornings where I seriously questioned how I was going to survive that day on forty minutes of sleep. Some babies sleep better than others and apparently mine sleep the worst of anyone's, ever.

How to Move Forward

When deciding whether or not to have another baby, expect that that baby won't sleep (and maybe be happily surprised when they do!) and then ask yourself how well you function when sleep deprived. Does it increase any existing anxiety or depression? Does sleep deprivation affect your ability to drive, make it to work on time, or get through a shift? If you're a stay at home parent, does sleep deprivation make it difficult for you to enjoy the kids you already have and to provide a quality home-experience for them?

Babyhood Takes a Toll on Your Mental Health

Post-partum depression alone affects nearly one million women in the United States annually. It's nothing to be ashamed of but it is something to keep in mind when weighing your options for having another baby.

How to Move Forward

Consider how the postpartum period affects you and your partner's mental health, whether one of you deals with postpartum anxiety or depression or just doesn't deal well with constant newborn crying, it's something to consider deeply before expanding the fam.

You've Put Your Career on Hold to Start a Family

Something to consider when you're deciding whether or not you're done having children is if you've had to put your career on hold to start your family in the first place and whether or not you're longing to go back to that career.

How to Move Forward

If having children has forced you to put your former career on hold or slowed the pace more than you were expecting, you need to ask yourself for how much longer you're cool with that, if you even want to go back at all, and how a new baby would affect that scenario.

If you plan to continue your education or career, ask yourself how many children you can have while still pursuing those things effectively.

If you plan to continue your education or career, ask yourself how many children you can have while still pursuing those things effectively.

You Want to Be a Stay at Home or Work From Home Parent

As I write this, I have a toddler with a hand down my shirt trying to chit chat with me about how I'm her momma (she's like, really obsessed with me). That's okay, I can handle that because it's just her, but multiply these distractions by that other hypothetical baby my husband and I considered before coming to our final decision and I don't think I'd be able to write the rest of this article before it was time to feed the kids their dinner and take them out to play.

How to Move Forward

This is simple logistics. The more kids you have at home, the harder it is to concentrate on tasks when you're home based. Can you handle that with another kid?

You're Financially Insecure

More basic logistics. Naysayers will say that kids cost you millions of dollars - I consider that an investment - while others will insist that kids cost hardly anything. The truth, in my experience, is that babies are cheap, kids are expensive. For the first year of each baby's life, my girls required not much more than the cost of gas to get them to their frequent checkups, and whatever food I personally needed to eat to nurse them efficiently.

Then they became little kids who love My Little Pony action figures, sparkly shoes and those extremely costly organic bunny fruit snacks. They dirty clothes faster than I can wash them, go through an entire cabinet of unbreakable dishes by each evening and get super hyped up about having a rainbow of tinsel professionally beaded into their hair to the tune $2 a strand (just multiply that by the rainbow, okay?)

How to Move Forward

Do my kids NEED rainbow tinsel and organic bunny fruit snacks to survive? No. They don't. But, without totally spoiling them, I like to provide my kids with the things and experiences in life that make their little blue eyes light up, and while those things may not cost much initially, it all adds up. Take even those little things out and basic needs like healthy foods, a hot bath before bed and well-fitting pajamas still get expensive. If you're not in a place where you feel financially secure, it makes sense to consider whether you'll realistically be financially secure enough to add another baby to the family or if it's time to consider your family complete and put your future energy into working towards financial security.

You Haven't Completed Your Education

I don't believe that college is for everyone, but for those who find that it's important to them either personally or financially, it's something to consider when deciding how big to grow your family.

How to Move Forward

If your kids are older and in school themselves and you're considering having another baby or going back to school, then homework with just one little babe around the house is probably doable. But if you're already in the throes of toddlerhood and playing with the idea of going back to school, you'll need to decide if you're really up for potty-training, diaper changes, 2,000 word essays and pop-quizzes all in the same day.

You Want to Travel

This is simple: travelling is expensive and the cost is usually based per person. The more people you have in your family, the more it will cost to travel.

How to Move Forward

If travelling is a priority for your family, calculate how many kids you can realistically afford to travel with and factor that number into your desired family-size.

Got the itch to travel? Calculating how many kids you can trek through airport security, busy crowds and long lines is something to seriously consider before adding more children to your family.

Got the itch to travel? Calculating how many kids you can trek through airport security, busy crowds and long lines is something to seriously consider before adding more children to your family.

You Plan to Send Your Kids to Private School or to Homeschool Them

When I was a kid, my parents sent my brother and I to private school briefly, the cost of which was enough to make your eyes pop straight outta your head like a character on an adult-themed cartoon. After private school, they pulled us out and homeschooled us, which, though much cheaper, also required a hefty time and energy investment - the cost of which multiplies with each child.

How to Move Forward

If you're planning to use an alternative form of education for your kids' school years, consider how your ability to effectively attain that education might change with each added child.

Unfortunately, a lot of medical conditions that occur during pregnancy can't be predicted until you're actually pregnant. This was true for our family. I have hyperemesis gravidarum, and it's reoccurring so we can expect that with each of my pregnancies I will, without doubt, be affected by it. This was a huge reason I was ready to call our family complete after our second daughter was born.

How to Move Forward

Conditions that may be isolated to pregnancy like gestational diabetes, hypertension or severe anemia are all valid things to consider when deciding on whether or not to have more kids.

Your Marriage or Partnership is Suffering

If things feel heavy between you and your partner lately then they won't feel any lighter if you have another baby.

How to Move Forward

If the stress of raising a family is starting to weigh your relationship down it might be time to consider your family complete and refocus on strengthening your relationship.

When you're deciding how many kids to have consider how much time you and your partner need to connect each week.

When you're deciding how many kids to have consider how much time you and your partner need to connect each week.

Your Marriage or Partnership Rocks!

Equally, a steady, healthy relationship is an awesome reason to get off the baby-train.

How to Move Forward

If you feel that your family has struck a balance and you're finding time to connect with your partner then this kid-to-parent ratio may just be your sweet spot! Don't tip the scales!

Going on Family Outings is a Priority

For the short time that I had only one child, everything was exponentially easier than it became when her sister arrived. From going to the doctor's office to out for pizza, every activity took on planning around not just one, but two kids and I imagine this gets trickier with each subsequent baby.

How to Move Forward

If you're feeling maxed out when you take the kids out imagine what it would be like to add another to the mix. If it blows your mind then you're probably at a great place in life to say a big fat N-O to another kid.

You've Stopped Having Baby Daydreams

Before I had my first daughter, I spent a lot of time thinking about babies. By the time I had my second baby, reality was fully set in and that excitement over babies was waning. As my kids grow, I've found myself so psyched about the stage that they're in that the idea of a newborn has steadily lost my interest.

How to Move Forward

If you're finding yourself more excited about exploring with your kids and less excited about dirty diapers and midnight feedings, you're probably ready to move on from the baby stage altogether.

I have two kids and somehow I have like ten laundry hampers that are full at all times.

I have two kids and somehow I have like ten laundry hampers that are full at all times.

You Really Want to Lose Weight or Just Take Your Body Back

For most women, breastfeeding equates weight loss. In my case, it was the exact opposite, and breastfeeding my daughters caused me to pack on a good twenty pounds each time around. I got to the point where I wanted my body back more than I wanted another baby.

How to Move Forward

If you're feeling ready to take back your body and move on from the days of stretch marks and extra baby-weight, that's a totally valid reason to consider your family complete.

You've Found Your Happy Place

You know what I mean. That place where you look around and realize you've been breathing deeply and calmly without intention. You're not just okay, you're actually happy, you're excited about tomorrow and the next day and the day after that because you're not exhausted, you're not overwhelmed. You've hit your stride.

How to Move Forward

You're there. Close this tab. Schedule one of you the appointment and never, ever look back.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2017 Kierstin Gunsberg


PMomof2 on March 06, 2019:

I just miscarried my third which was not planned or expected — I had fertility help with my first two. My oldest has special needs and is doing very well but it has taken so much money and time to get him there. Our youngest is 18 months. So we are thinking about being done so that we don’t take money and time away from our two we have now. Especially our oldest. Doesn’t seem fair to leave him with less resources when how much we put into him may be a major factor in predicting his future success or lack of it in becoming independent.

Kierstin Gunsberg (author) from Traverse City, Michigan on February 11, 2019:

Wow, Coteia, thank you for sharing this with me! Coming to a place mentally where you can say "My family is complete" opens up space for adventures and I think that's very special. It also helps me to steer clear of the baby sections when I'm shopping :)

Coteia on February 10, 2019:

Thank you so much for writing this article. I wanted another, but my husband did not. Your article has helped me come to the realization that, although I love babies, I don't really want another. Whenever I get sad about the fact that we are done adding to our family, I go through your list, and 97% is true for me. It's like, I love the idea of a baby, but your article gives me the reality check, that I no longer want to put in the work required when you have one. My life and family is complete... Thank you for helping me to realize this.

Kierstin Gunsberg (author) from Traverse City, Michigan on January 01, 2019:

Of course, Stephanie! I don't think that any one person can decide what works for someone else, especially when it comes to family size :)

stephanie cremeans on December 31, 2018:

Thank you for being nice and open minded about one persons number isn't the same for another! We are at 8 and counting!

Kierstin Gunsberg (author) from Traverse City, Michigan on February 19, 2018:

Sarah, I'm glad this article helped you to weigh out your feelings about family size.

I know that before I had kids I had a different idea of what would be the perfect number but since I've become a mom I'm really happy with where we're at and very rarely look back.

Sarah Mc on February 17, 2018:

Thanks for this article. It helped me realise that I have definitely made the correct decision to have two children. Thanks again

Kierstin Gunsberg (author) from Traverse City, Michigan on January 18, 2018:

Hey Nicole! I was really scared about my two kids being so close in age too (they are a year and a half apart) and even though it was tough for the first year, I'm so relieved now. Having them close in age is awesome because they really entertain each other and interact (mostly) on the same level so that's actually ended up being EASIER for me :)

Something that I noticed after we decided our family was complete is that it gave us the room to grow in other ways. It's made it easier for me to finish up my education and for my husband and I to focus on work and bringing in more income each year since we aren't shuffling back and forth to the OB, planning for a newborn, etc. The baby stage is special but the part that comes after is also really special and we're enjoying getting to know our kids with less distractions!

I hope the rest of your pregnancy goes smoothly and that you get your girl! And if you don't, that you can revel in having three of the same gender - that definitely comes with it's own cool stuff!

Nicole K on January 16, 2018:

Thank you so much for your well-written article! I'm currently 12 weeks pregnant, and also have a 4-year-old and a 15-month-old. I'm excited about the new baby, but also a bit apprehensive about how close in age the younger two will be. I plan on homeschooling as well, and know that will definitely be hectic. Recently I told my husband that I think we'll be done after this one, because it might be all we can handle. Like you said, I don't want to be stretched so thin that I can't enjoy my children or our marriage suffers. We are really hoping for a girl, since right now we have two boys. I think if we get our girl, that may just complete our family. Plus, living on one income in California is really tough to do and we are already struggling financially. So, as much as I love children and the idea of a big family, I totally agree with your practical points about being ready to stop having children and just be content with your family the way it is.

Kierstin Gunsberg (author) from Traverse City, Michigan on October 14, 2017:

Thanks, Angel! It's so true on the money part. Fianances are (and should be) a consideration when it comes to family planning. I always said that if I was rich I'd have a ton of babies, because I do love my kids so much. But I want to give them the best life and stability possible and financial security is part of that. Such is life!

Angel Guzman from Joliet, Illinois on October 14, 2017:

Well thought out honest article. I would love another she wouldn't. Also money... reality hurts!