Most women and AFAB (assigned female at birth) people can relate to feeling the pressure to be pregnant. A layer of worry may be added when you're single, in a same-sex relationship, or experiencing reproductive health challenges. There’s power in tuning in and listening to what you’re truly desiring with regard to parenthood. 

Depending on your age, financial circumstances, and relationship stability, the idea of having a child can seem exciting, confusing, or panic-inducing. However, through peaceful preparation, the idea of motherhood and pregnancy could feel a lot calmer. Whatever barriers you may feel are in your way, take a deep breath and start exploring some of the key ways to approach those blossoming feelings of wanting a baby. 

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Age and Fertility Decline, aka The 'Biological Clock'

Although it would be easy to believe the desire to have a baby is due to hormonal shifts within our reproductive lifespan, research has shown the desire to have a child is a sociological issue driven by the brain. Feeling pulled toward parenthood has been found to align with an awareness of fertility diminishing with age.

1. Maintain a healthy mindset 

As writer Diahala Doucoure argues, the social construct of the aging woman’s ‘biological clock,’ created in the late 70s, was ‘carried out to target the ‘career woman’…[and] reassign women who had benefited from the feminist waves back to traditional duties.” This message still exists in the societies we live in today and can add additional anxiety. Avoid fear-mongering by challenging what kind of information you consume so you have a more well-rounded approach to your decision-making.

Many of us can get wrapped up in the intricacies of how, who, and when, so instead of losing sleep over the unknown, dream up the ideal situation and focus on what you want. This mindful approach starts laying the way for a more trusting mentality rather than encouraging you to act out of panic.

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2. Nurture your physical health

Frustratingly, there is a lack of reliable tests and accessibility for checking your ovarian reserve. However, through blood tests (checking your Follicle Stimulating Hormone (FSH), Estradiol (E2), and Anti-Mullerian Hormone (AMH)) and ultrasound, you can get a better understanding of your fertility health.

From there, you can make informed decisions such as opting to freeze your eggs for the future. Even if you're still unsure about kids, preserving your fertility can provide peace of mind amidst uncertainty. 

Additionally, it's always advised to track your menstrual cycle for a few months so you can flag any abnormalities or issues that may be cause for concern to your care team. Think about how to take care of your body and nurture your reproductive health. Alcohol and cigarettes are known to reduce the health of your ovaries. Severe dieting, sleep deprivation, obesity, and drug misuse are all causes for impacting healthy pregnancies and a baby's growth to full term. 

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3. Seek like-minded people

Being single and wanting a child is something that many people can relate to. Yet most parenting ads, guidelines, and products are made with cis-hetero couples in mind. This can make it feel isolating when thinking about other options for bringing up a baby. Similarly, for those in same-sex, trans, and poly relationships, the journey to conceiving or parenting can look a million different ways. 

Connecting with people who are on similar alternative paths can be very reassuring. Search out support networks, on and offline, offering information based on their experiences. From co-parenting networks where you raise children with a platonic friend to adopting and fostering services and single-parent support groups, connect with people who can empathize and advise you on your options.

If you're feeling nervous about the idea of adapting to life as a parent, offer to babysit a friend’s child. Spend time around kids and allow yourself to become more familiar with the responsibility of parenting. Research egg, sperm, and surrogacy services so you can understand what costs may occur and any legalities for you to start thinking about. Step by step, you'll see the options are pretty vast.

Bethany Burgoyne is a journalist, features editor and illustrator currently based in London.