How many children are enough?  How many children are too much?

For some mothers, this question dodges them endlessly, watching while they pack away the last baby clothes, and catching them as they pick up a friendâ??s new baby and breathe in that special baby smell. 

Feeling broody?

When I fell pregnant with baby number three I was surprised and not a little freaked out. Sure, I hadnâ??t decided unequivocally that I was done with babies, but my second daughter was only 14 months old and I was still adjusting to having two children.  Now, with a 3, 5 and 8 year old I can look at the whole â??number of childrenâ?? debate with a fair amount of hard-earned insight!

As any parent knows, choosing to add to your family affects everyone and everything, from your child or children to your partner, your relationships, your finances and let’s not forget the general world population levels. Yet ultimately the choice of whether to have another baby goes much deeper than issues like whether your only child needs a sibling, or thinking you may regret not having had more children when theyâ??re grown up.

Subscribe to our Free Daily All4Women Newsletter to enter

And while finances certainly are an important consideration, unless you are unemployed or already have a large family, if you really want another child, you will make a plan and downscale your lifestyle. It all depends on your priorities and everyone has their opinion on what those should be.

Can you be a good parent?

The most important question you should ask yourself is whether you, as a mother, can be a good parent to another child.  Who can forget the tragic case of Andrea Yates, 36, a Texan mother of five, who, one terrible day in 2001 snapped and drowned her five children age 6 months to 7 years in the bath?  Later cleared of murder on the grounds that she was â??insaneâ?? at the time due to post-natal depression, Yatesâ?? case sent shivers down mothersâ?? spines everywhere. 

It was not only the thought of those poor children, but that many of us identified with the depths of emotional pressure motherhood can put us under.  Whether you have suffered from post-natal depression or just suffered from endless weeks of sleep deprivation, you know that motherhood can push your limits like no other experience in life.

Physical and emotional strength

Do you have the patience and the physical, emotional and mental strength to have another baby? Go beyond the baby years, and see them for the wonderful, multi-faceted and complex beings that they are.  You canâ??t know now how much time and effort will go into raising them, whether they will battle academically, socially, or physically. 

I have been amazed at the new issues that arise every year of my childrenâ??s development: just as you think youâ??re ending a stage, a new one begins.

When considering another baby, look carefully at your personality, your life dreams, your philosophies about raising children and your parenting style. I have had to adjust which, although itâ??s been hard at times, has also been a great life lesson.  Iâ??ve learnt to let go of my need for things to be perfect (in my mind), of my need to control situations â?? children are so clearly not about control! â?? and to simplify my life and trust that whatever my children get from me will be enough, as long as I am a happy, content mother.

Ultimately only you know what you are capable of, so before you create a long list of reasons for and against having another baby, look within yourself for the answer.  And then make peace with your decision either way.