The decision to add an infant to your family comes after a
great deal of thought. If you're in a committed relationship, add another
choice: Which of you will carry the baby? The solution depends on your ages,
health, lifestyle, financial situation and maybe which of you has the better
When expanding your family, there are always aspects of your
life to consider aside from the simple emotional joy of having a child. A
pregnancy and birth is an expensive undertaking, not only in medical costs but
also in the sense that it'll likely impinge heavily on the career of whichever
partner is pregnant with the child.
Chris Donaghue, a Los Angeles-based therapist specializing in sex and
relationships, suggests taking a hard look at individual finances.
“Knowing this will be such an investment both financially and emotionally,” says
Donaghue, featured on the Logo TV show Bad
Sex, “consider which partner has the job where the family won’t feel so
much of a hit if they don’t have that income for a while. Think about whose
income is most needed.”
“The person who has more of a ‘caretaker’ personality style
may be the best option to be the supporter, not the carrier, at least for the
first child.” —Chris Donaghue, Los Angeles-based therapist specializing in sex
Further considerations include parental leave and
disability. Check to see whose company might provide paid leave and whether you
can tap your short-term disability policy. States also provide short-term
disability coverage (usually 4 to 6 weeks) while the Family and Medical Leave
Act (FMLA) provides 12 weeks of unpaid leave to eligible employees.
Also take a look at which partner has the best medical
insurance, says Barbara Crone, a nurse-midwife in Michigan. "Having a baby
is not inexpensive, but insurance can cover a lot of the costs."
Age and Fertility
Dr. Suzanne Gilberg-Lenz., a Beverly Hills, Calif.-based ob-gyn
who counts many celebrity moms among her patients, has some specific ideas
about which partner should carry the child.
“One thing to consider is whether both of the women in the couple eventually
want to have kids,” Gilberg-Lenz says. “If age is a major factor of both of the
partners and both partners want to conceive, then you should go with the older
partner, because we know that fertility significantly declines in women between 35 and 40 (years old) and then significantly again after 40. As you get into
the higher age category, the chances of fertility with your own eggs definitely
An additional vote for the younger partner comes from Dr. Vicken Sahakian,
director of the Pacific Fertility Center in Los Angeles. He also notes that female
same-sex couples have different options.
"The most cost-effective one is for one of them to do artificial
insemination with donor sperm," Sahakian says. "In these instances, I
prefer if the person is relatively young, under 35, but they certainly can try
even up to age 43."
Another option is to use the eggs of one partner and the sperm of the other
partner's brother, thus creating a genetic link between the partners. "In
cases where one partner will be the egg source, we prefer that individual to be
the younger partner to increase the chances of success," Sahakian adds.
However, age is not the only factor in considering which partner should carry
the baby. The couple should also assess the medical history of the person
wishing to carry the child.
“If there's any concern,” Gilberg-Lenz says, “like a history of endometriosis
or pelvic inflammatory disease, which could affect the Fallopian tubes and
fertility, you should be fully evaluated so that you don’t spin your wheels and
waste a lot of time. You could very likely become pregnant, but it might
Emotionally speaking, there are many issues to consider
before moving ahead and choosing which partner will carry the baby.
“If your relationship doesn’t feel completely stable, you’re about to move into
something that’s even more destabilizing,” Donaghue says.
Something that can help you decide who will carry the baby is taking a look at
your relationship "style" and your emotional role in the partnership. “There’s
typically one person in the couple who has more what I call ‘self-regulated’
emotions, meaning they’re able to calm themselves easily. These tend to be the
‘caretaker’ types,” Donaghue says.
Donaghue does not suggest that only the most emotionally solid partner should
bear a child. Instead, he says the emotional role dictates only in what order
the partners should bear their children.
“The person who has more of a ‘caretaker’ personality style may be the best
option to be the supporter, not the carrier, at least for the first child,”
Donaghue says. “Then, if you have a second baby, you have a better idea of what
it’s going to feel like, so the less self-regulated partner would then be ready
to be the supportive one.”
Butting Heads: If You're at an Impasse
If you cannot come to a decision that satisfies both
partners, it may be time to reevaluate your relationship for a while before
moving ahead with having a child.
"If you can’t agree after going through all your options, it may be that
you need to ask yourselves: 'Do we always have a problem decision-making
together?'" says Chris Donaghue, a Los Angeles-based therapist
specializing in sex and relationships, who is featured on the Logo TV show Bad Sex.
"You should practice decision-making together before
you make this big life decision about carrying a child, because how do you
think you’ll handle it when, later on, there are choices to make about how to
raise your child? … Take some time to make sure your relationship is as stable
as it can be,” he says.