What is a Reproductive Life Plan?
A reproductive life plan is a sort of roadmap for your life, it’s as unique as you are, and it can change as you do. And they aren’t just for women- it is really important for men to think about when and how they want to have a family, too!
What to Consider when Creating a Reproductive Life Plan
Ask yourself some questions about what your life looks like now, and what you want it to look like in the future. Below are some ideas to get you started, but any plans or goals that you have should be taken into account. Remember to discuss all of this with your health care provider at your next appointment.
It captures your big goals in life, things like how much education you want to complete, what kind of job you would like to have, if you want to get married, or own a house.
It’s a picture of everything you dream of achieving in your life, including whether you want to have children or not, how many, and when. When creating a reproductive life plan, you take into account how your plans to have children, or not, are affected by your other goals in life. By having a plan to prevent pregnancy until you finish school, have a steady job, or are sure you and your partner are ready to be parents, you can be more prepared when the time to start a family is right.
So birth control is a big part of your reproductive life plan, too. By choosing an effective method of contraception that fits with your lifestyle, you can focus on all your big life plans and wait until the time is right to start, or grow, your family.
Timing is important, not just for a first pregnancy but for all of your pregnancies. Birth spacing, or how long a woman waits in between pregnancies, can affect her health and the health of her baby. It is recommended that women wait at least 18 months after giving birth before getting pregnant again. This allows your body to recover from the stress of pregnancy and childbirth. The difference in ages between children can also make for an easier time parenting.
How important is education to your future plans?
Does the job you would like to have require that you have a high school diploma, high school equivalency, or college degree? More education can often mean more job opportunities and greater financial stability. Many people feel that by waiting until they have finished school and/or started working they are more prepared to be parents. Unplanned pregnancy can make it difficult to complete studies on time, though, so students should make sure to use effective contraception.
Want to learn more about educational opportunities? Check out these links:
Work can be one of the biggest factors in determining when the right time to get pregnant is. These days, many couples are choosing to delay having children until they have worked for a while and feel more secure in their job or career. How would having a child affect your plans for working? What about your partner’s? Would one of you stay home with the baby or would you pay for child care?
Consider all of these questions and any other thoughts you have about job and career as you create your reproductive life plan.
Links to job resources:
The kind of support that you will have in raising a child is probably the most important consideration of all when making a reproductive life plan. Be sure that you and your partner are on the same page about having children. Having a supportive partner in parenting is good for your child’s health, but also for your own! It also makes a big difference if you have the help of your family and friends. Consider the following:
- Are you and your partner committed to each other?
- Have you discussed how you each feel about having children?
- Do you have a plan for how you and your partner will parent?
- What other kinds of support do you have in place? Do you have your parents, other family members, or friends living close by? Could they help you with child care or parenting advice?
Sometimes people feel that if they are in a rocky relationship having a baby will make things better, but that is rarely the case. Becoming a parent can be a stressful transition. It is better to get your relationship on track before you bring a baby into the picture. If you’re in a relationship now that makes you feel unsafe or you are experiencing abuse of any kind, look into these resources to get help:
- Louisiana Coalition Against Domestic Violence
- Department of Children & Family Services
- National Domestic Violence Hotline
If you are currently pregnant or already have a child, you may also be eligible for programs that help give new parents more support and resources to learn about how to raise a healthy family. Check out these options:
Many people wait to have children until they feel they are more financially stable. That might mean saving up for a while to prepare for the costs of having a baby, or getting some assistance. Consider checking out a budgeting app, like Mint, to get a better handle on your finances and learn more about how to save.
Below are some resources that could help you to stay healthy, physically and financially.
Babies are small, but they sure do manage to take up a lot space! Before becoming pregnant, consider whether where you are currently living would be a good place for a baby.
- Is there enough space?
- Is it a safe environment?
- Is it stable- meaning will you be able to continue to live there or could you have to move soon?
If you would like to find different or better housing, consider contacting your local housing authority, or visiting the Louisiana HUD website.
How healthy you are before you get pregnant is really important. You may hear people refer to this as ‘preconception health.’ This doesn’t just apply to moms-to-be, though. Dads-to-be should take measures to get healthy before a couple has a baby, too. Read more about preconception health for men here.
If you’re a woman considering becoming pregnant in the next year, check out this list of health habits to work on today, so that you can have a healthy pregnancy. Even if you don’t want to become pregnant soon, or maybe ever, it’s still a good idea to show yourself some love and practice healthy habits. Below are some links to helpful resources. Your health care provider can work through all of this with you- don’t be afraid to ask them for help!