Why do you want a baby? Genes, Pregnancy and Parenting

The urge to procreate is extremely strong and as Sir Osler said, there are two primal desires for humans - to get and to beget !

Fertile couples find it easy to make a baby in their bedrooms. Most of us take our reproductive ability for granted , and expect to be able to have babies when we are ready to grow our families. The urge to procreate is extremely strong and as Sir Osler said, there are two primal desires for humans - to get and to beget !

Why do most of us want to have babies in the first place ? Very few of us bother to analyze our motives, because babies are often the happy results of our pleasurable bedroom pursuits. Many couples are just following their basic biological urges , as commanded by their selfish genes. For others , babies are a welcome byproduct of their sexual activity , and they are quite pleased to grow their families. Many others will blindly obey the social pressure to have children , simply because this is what is expected of them.
What about the minority who actually thinks about why they want have a baby ? There could be multiple reasons.

Some simply want to propagate their family name , because this is what their religion commands them to do . Others possess a lot of ancestral property , which is why they want to have heirs to whom they can hand over their assets . Some have extremely high self-esteem and believe that their genes are so special that they would be doing posterity a favor by having children who have their unique talents, as encoded in their genes . For these people the major desire is their urge to propagate their DNA.

In primitive societies, the major role of the woman was to have babies , and childless women were often treated as outcasts. It was only when the woman gave birth to a child that she was given the honor of being considered to be a productive member of society. While this attitude was extremely common in the past, some of these primitive beliefs die hard , and are still true today in many parts of the world. For these women , the major desire to have a child is so that they are no longer considered to be second-class citizens , and can become respected members of society. Just as a mother gives birth to a child , remember that a child too gives birth to a mother !

For a thoughtful minority , the major reason to have a baby would be to become a parent. These are people who love children and want to have the pleasure of bringing up their own child , so they can share their experiences and wisdom with the next generation. They understand that just as they hope to teach their child , they will also learn a lot by becoming a parent , because a child will often teach as much to a parent as he learns from her.

Fortunately for most couples , having a baby in the bedroom allows us to package all these desires into one joyful package ! When babies are made in the bedroom , this natural biological process allows us to propagate our genes ; experience pregnancy and birth , so we can claim our place as adults in society ; and also bring up our children , so that we can both teach them and learn from them.

However, this desire gets thwarted for infertile couples ; and then they need to make some hard decisions as to what their priorities are, when they want have a child. Some couples are adamant that the child has have to have their own genes. This means they want to use only their only own eggs and sperm, and will not countenance the use of donor gametes. This is why a number of older women are then misled into doing surrogacy treatment by IVF doctors, even though this will not help them at all ( because the problem is not with their uterus, but with their eggs).

There are other couples who are not so fixated on their personal DNA ; and simply want to experience the pleasure of having a baby. They are willing to consider the use of donor eggs , donor sperm and donor embryos to fulfill their desires. The more the options you are open to, the better the chances of your achieving success !

Finally, there are couples who simply want to have a child so they can rear the child and shower him with their love and affection. In the past, adoption was an excellent solution for a lot of these couples . Today thanks to assisted reproductive technology, they have even more choices, such as surrogacy. You can read a great first person account on how one couple made up their mind at the article, Meet the Twiblings .

If you are infertile and are not sure how to proceed, you need to step back and discuss with each other what your primary goals and motives are in having a baby. Is it biological ? personal ? social ? cultural ? This can become quite a sore issue, especially when you and your partner do not see eye to eye. The lust and craving to have a baby can be much stronger in women than it is in men , especially when their biological clock goes off - and this can create a lot of angst !

Authored by : Dr Aniruddha Malpani, MD and reviewed by Dr Anjali Malpani.