Are you ready emotionally?

What you need to know
Being a parent is a full-time job. Before you get pregnant, think about the emotional and lifestyle issues you will face as a parent. It’s important for you and your partner to agree on most of the major issues, or begin discussing your differences, before you conceive. Only you can decide if you're emotionally ready for a baby.

What you can do
To help you find out if you're emotionally ready for a baby, ask yourself these 10 questions:

  • Why do you want to have a baby?
  • Are you and your partner ready for the changes that having a baby can have on your relationship?
  • If you’re not in a relationship, are you prepared to raise a child alone?
  • How will a baby affect your education or career plans?
  • Have you and your partner talked about how you'll handle any religious or ethnic differences when raising your child?
  • What will you do for child care?
  • Are you prepared to parent a child who is sick or has special needs?
  • Are you ready to have less free time for yourself?
  • Can you see yourself enjoying your time as a parent?
  • What do you want for your baby's childhood that may've been missing from your childhood?

For more information

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
CDC Show Your Love Campaign

Last reviewed March 2007

Most common questions

Can dad's exposure to chemicals harm his future kids?

Dad's exposure to harmful chemicals and substances before conception or during his partner's pregnancy can affect his children. Harmful exposures can include drugs (prescription, over-the-counter and illegal drugs), alcohol, cigarettes, cigarette smoke, chemotherapy and radiation. They also include exposure to lead, mercury and pesticides.

Unlike mom's exposures, dad's exposures do not appear to cause birth defects. They can, however, damage a man's sperm quality, causing fertility problems and miscarriage. Some exposures may cause genetic changes in sperm that may increase the risk of childhood cancer. Cancer treatments, like chemotherapy and radiation, can seriously alter sperm, at least for a few months post treatment. Some men choose to bank their sperm to preserve its integrity before they receive treatment. If you have a question about a specific exposure, contact the Organization of Teratology Information Specialists at www.mothertobaby.org/.

I've been diagnosed with PCOS. Can I get pregnant?

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a medical condition that can affect a woman's menstrual cycle, hormones, heart, blood vessels, appearance (especially excessive hair growth) and the ability to have children. Although women do make small levels of androgens, also called male hormones, women with PCOS typically have high levels of androgens. This creates a hormonal disorder that affects ovulation and fertility. PCOS can cause many infertility cases. However, with the right treatment, many women have been able to get pregnant.

Women with PCOS often have trouble keeping a healthy weight. Having a healthy weight and increasing physical activity will help maintain ovulation and fertility. It'll also help prevent other complications like diabetes and heart disease. Your health care provider might consider the following treatments to help you get pregnant.

- Medications to help improve insulin resistance and ovulation
- Medication to induce ovulation

My menstrual period is irregular. Can I get pregnant?

Every woman's menstrual cycle is different. Some women have their cycle like clockwork. Others have trouble knowing when it's going to happen. If you have only slight variations from month to month, but you have your menstrual period at least once every 25 to 35 days, this could be normal. However, if your cycle is absent for more than 2 months, you bleed too little or too much and you can't predict when it's going to happen, talk to your health provider. Having an irregular menstrual cycle may mean that ovulation isn't happening or it's happening only a few times a year. This will affect your ability to get pregnant. Your health provider will probably check your thyroid, pituitary and adrenal glands. After a checkup your health provider will discuss your treatment options.

©2013 March of Dimes Foundation. The March of Dimes is a non-profit organization recognized as tax-exempt under Internal Revenue Code section 501(c)(3).