Most women do not "love abortion."

USA Today op-ed: Stop scaring women who want to have kids

USA Today opinion columnist Carrie Lukas, who is the managing director of the Independent Women’s Forum and a mother of four, issued a poignant reminder to the culture on Sunday when she observed that, despite the fact that childbirth is the safest it has ever been, mothers are constantly being warned and worried about the risks and difficulties that may be associated with parenthood.

Lukas recalled that, during her first pregnancy, she heeded frightening warnings about the possible mercury levels in canned tuna. In an effort to do what was best for her baby, she gave up tuna completely for the duration of her pregnancy, only to learn later that new research suggests that foregoing fish was dangerous because it deprives the baby of essential nutrients, and the mercury levels in canned tuna turned out to be less of a concern than researchers had initially thought. These warnings and admonitions towards pregnant women go on…and on…and on.

Don’t use drinking bottles made with BPA, or you could die.
Make sure you eat a lot of healthy oils and leafy greens, or your baby will be born with birth defects.
Don’t even think about getting your nails done, because the fumes are carcinogenic. 
Cook your cold cuts before eating, or you’ll get listeria.
Don’t drink coffee, because it, too, will kill you and your baby.
You’re going to have an epidural? But why would anyone want to DRUG her baby?!
Do you even know how much kids cost? You’re going to be poorer than ever! 

Many of these warnings (e.g., the BPA warning) come from environmental advocates and have no weight in the actual scientific community. But the lack of scientific evidence for many of the dangers touted during pregnancy fails to put an end to unnecessary stress and worry for unsuspecting pregnant women, or women who would like to be pregnant but are dissuaded by naysayers. Lurking around every corner – on Facebook, in the checkout aisle at the grocery store, at the gym, in line at the coffee shop – are individuals who feel the need to prescribe warnings and admonitions for every prospective parent in sight. Just wait is a common phrase issued to pregnant women anticipating the birth of their first child.

Just wait – that bundle of joy is going to have you sleep-deprived and crazy before he’s two weeks old! What a way to squash the joy that comes with new life. The problem is not with the pregnant woman; the problem is with the bitter person who wants to suck joy out of happy times. Most women experience the relieving reality that the sleep deprivation and life changes that come with a child are nothing compared to the absolute elation and happiness associated with raising a baby.

Lukas suggests that these negative comments could be responsible for some of the demographic crisis that much of the world – including the United States, with an all-time low fertility rate of 1.9 – is experiencing. The ridiculous amount of negative shoved on would-be parents is enough to make couples (often needlessly) think twice before embarking on parenthood, and as a result, many countries, especially in the West, are experiencing fertility rates far below 2.1, which is the rate needed just for individuals to replace themselves.

The mother of four urges that perhaps now is the time to start emphasizing the positive aspects of raising a family during this particular period of history. She concludes:

Here’s advice for expectant moms that I hope is a tad more useful: Try to relax and use common sense. Don’t drink your Lysol or decide today’s the day to start stripping your furniture. Take your prenatal vitamins, eat a variety of foods and think a bit more about your diet. But don’t make yourself miserable with worry.

Children born today can expect a longer, healthier life than at any other time in history. They will have access to better medicine, greater nutrition and a cleaner, safer environment than previous generations. Such reminders may make being pregnant a little less stressful and parenting more fun. Perhaps it will even encourage a few more people out there to give parenting a try.

  • Bridget

    Children aren’t that expensive. They can be pricey sometimes, but with price comes discounts and savings, and anyone can save money if they know how to do it right.

    • ldwendy

      Not correct. Children are expensive if they are born with a grave illness or a severe disability. Cochlear implants for example, costs $50,000 per ear and are not always covered by insurance. Then you have intensive follow-up appointments with audiologists and speech therapists for at least 2-3 years if the baby was born profoundly deaf. Each of my programming sessions are at least $350 for each 2-hour session.

      I also personally know parents who have young severely autistic children. The parents spend enormous sums on physical, occupational, speech and music therapy for the children because insurance doesn’t cover these services.

      Being surrounded by disability and knowing people with significant disabilities for most of my life, you will never convince me children are “not that expensive.”

      Lauren’s remarks that “most women experience the relieving reality that the sleep deprivation and life changes that come with a child are nothing compared to the absolute elation and happiness associated with raising a baby” sounds like she has never experienced having a child with a severe disability.

      • guest

        …You just don’t know how to not be a downer, do you?

        • ldwendy

          Not a “downer” . . . just being realistic and telling things like it really is.

          • Mamabear

            There is help available for disabled children without insurance. May not cover it all, but it is out there. A friend raised a daughter with spina bifada.
            Most children, however, are not disabled. It is ridiculous to not have children out of fear of having a disabled child.
            I have found costs for raising children is not cheap, but often exaggerated by many of the “experts.” My kids wore hand-me-downs, shared rooms, had homemade birthday cakes, etc. Somehow we found money for books, scouts, and dance lessons. One had both vision and hearing problems. All three are now college grads, with honors. So don’t say it can’t be done.
            All my children were blessings to raise. And all are assets to their communities.

      • Marauder

        “Each of my programming sessions are at least $350 for each 2-hour session.”

        I didn’t know you were deaf. That makes your comments even more interesting to me – do you think your parents didn’t experience absolute elation and happiness associated with raising you? (I don’t know if they did or not.)

        I was a pretty easy kid to raise when it came to parental obedience and school, but starting from when I was at least ten years old, if not before, I was sort of a heartbreaking kid to raise because I had severe depression and anxiety and frequent suicidal ideation. I was in my mid-twenties when my mom told me that, mood-wise, I was finally reminding her again of the happy person I used to be over a decade ago. But I would never tell people, “Don’t have a kid in case they turn out to be like me!”, because frankly, I like being me. I think I’m a worthwhile person with things to contribute to the world. Emotional turmoil and money aren’t good enough excuses to deny a person their existence.

        • ldwendy

          “That makes your comments even more interesting to me – do you think your parents didn’t experience absolute elation and happiness associated with raising you? ”

          Well my mother was a schoolteacher and she loved kids….and she enjoyed raising her own kids. That said, I would not say she coped very well when I was diagnosed with hearing loss while in elementary school. But I do the benefit of hindsight, so to speak.

          I commend you for being able say, “I like being me”. Still working to get to that point! All I can say is I’m still trying to make lemonade here.

          • Mamabear

            Wendy, your comment about “still trying to make lemonade” kept coming back to me. Everyone has struggles. They can hit at any point in life. And we really cannot compare with each other, because what one person might sail through may be almost impossible for someone else. 2 years ago my life was derailed by cancer. My life will never return to what I used to consider normal. I could choose to cry and be bitter (and to be honest I occasionally have a times when I do – usually after my monthly treatments) or choose to seek out the joy still available, to concentrate on my blessings. I choose to see life as a gift. Look for your blessings. Look for ways to be a blessing. Your life, you as an individual, are unique and special, created by God. Learn to like being you.

          • Marauder

            Yeah, I ditto this. Everyone has their flaws – I can be impatient as heck and if I didn’t procrastinate so much I would have finished writing, like, three novels by now – but everyone has their good points and, importantly, their gifts. Everyone has the potential to do great things for themselves and for the world. :)

      • Lauren Enriquez

        ldwendy, I’m sorry that your parenting experience has been somewhat disappointing. That said, I believe you misrepresented my comment. I know many parents of children with very severe disabilities (Trisomy 18, Down syndrome, encephalitic children, the list goes on…), and these setbacks do not mitigate the amount of joy that they experience from being able to raise their precious child. I stand by my statement that “most” parents are relieved to discover that the negative outlook about children that was shoved on them before childbirth fades away once parents meet their children and feel a love they had never experienced, regardless of the challenges and struggles that may come along with caring for the child.

  • elstickman28

    When choices r available…people want things and lifestyles not compatible with marriage and kids. Smaller families liveso jucy better

    • Lauren Enriquez

      I’m sure many large families would disagree with you ;)

      • elstickman28

        I doubt you are right. How many people from large families replicate that large family system when they are older? I suspect few and fewer still.

        • Lauren Enriquez

          Well, my husband (one of nine) and myself (one of six) are doing that right now, so we don’t fit into your perception that people from large families don’t want or make large families themselves. :)

  • Dick

    Good article, Lauren. Women have been having babies since the beginning of time and in places and circumstances that have been much more difficult and dangerous than the present. At no time has it been safer to have a baby than the present. Should women be careful when pregnant? Of course. However, many of the scare tactics are promoted by those who profess population limitations, many of which are not creditable and irresponsible. Common sense always prevails over emotions. Thanks for some common sense on the issue.