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Regretting Motherhood. What if the sacrifices are too great?


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#1 AmityD

Posted 19 April 2011 - 10:41 AM

I just finished reading the book ‘Thirty Something And The Clock Is Ticking,’ by Kasey Edwards. Ms Edwards was enjoying her thirties, with no immediate plans to become a mum, when a medical diagnosis changed everything. The discovery that severe endometriosis had left her with a decreased chance of falling pregnant lead her doctor to declare she only had 12 months to try and conceive a child, or risk losing the chance entirely. Unsure of whether she wanted to become a mum, now or ever, Kasey embarked on a process of researching, investigating and option weighing to decide whether becoming a mother was the right choice for her.

I found this process very interesting, because my path to motherhood could not have been more different. Unlike Ms Edwards, from the time I was old enough to put a baby doll in a pram and force my sister to play the Dad, I have been rehearsing for the role of Mum. I was the girl who would rush to hold any baby within my vicinity, not minding the nappy changing and drool wiping. I handed out flyers to the families in our street the minute I turned 12, announcing my availability for babysitting. Motherhood, for me, was never an intellectual choice I made after weighing up the facts. It was a deep and primal longing I knew I had to fulfil.  

I distinctively remember the moment I decided the time was right to start trying for a baby, after having been married for four years. We were sitting at a café having breakfast at 2pm, after a big night out the night before. We were leisurely reading the papers, no pressure to do anything or be anywhere other than in the moment. But as I looked across the road to an oval where children were playing in a soccer competition, their parents cheering them on with pride, I thought ‘I would rather be them.’ In that moment I decided I had enjoyed enough late nights, sleep ins and leisurely breakfasts and was ready to trade them all in for the early mornings and soccer games of parental life. It was as simple as that.
  
And almost 6 years and two children later, despite longing for a leisurely breakfast spent reading the papers on some weekends, I have never ever regretted that decision.  Motherhood is undoubtedly the most exhausting, challenging, relentless thing I have ever done, but to me the rewards are absolutely worth it. But reading this book lead me question whether everyone feels this way. Or do some people actually regret becoming parents, feeling the sacrifices were too great?

It seems to go without saying that, even if you’re ambivalent about parenthood beforehand, once you have your baby the love kicks in you can no longer imagine life without them. And while many a joke has been made by parents whose child was unplanned and unexpected, it’s always followed up with the reassurance that it was a happy mistake. It would be less socially acceptable to hear them proclaim they wish they never had them and would change it if they could. But are there parents out there who, despite loving their child, actually feel like that?

When you weigh up the pros and cons of motherhood, as Ms Edwards did in her decision making process, there’s no doubt the list of things you give up is an awfully long one. Your time, your body, your money, your sleep, your freedom, your self focus, your personal space, your short-term career, your ability to be selfish, your ability to be spontaneous and your ability to think about one thing at a time, just to name a few. And in return you get to selflessly give of yourself 24 hours a day. As my husband suggested, ‘On paper, it’s a tough sell.’

To put it another way, as a friend of Ms Edward’s did so eloquently in her book, motherhood is often ‘A whole lot of sh*t with a glimpse of brilliance.’ Yet somehow, for most of us, those glimpses of brilliance are enough to sustain us. But perhaps they’re not enough for everyone?

In one chapter Ms Edwards questions why a friend of hers decided to have a second child, when she found the first one so challenging. This is because to a non parent those glimpses of brilliance don’t even come close to making up for the hard slog it takes to achieve them. I also experienced this recently while working with a girl my age who is single and childfree (the latter by choice, the former not so much!) She turned up to rehearsal, having woken at midday, and recounted the details of her decadant night out. In contrast I had been up most of the night with a new baby and a sick preschooler and had already put in a few hours work just to get out of the house. So the story of my evening’s adventures involved a projectile vomit, sheets that needed changing, numerous breastfeeds and two hours sleep. However it concluded with my children giggling at each other as they snuggled in bed with us. A joyful moment that, as I explained to her, miraculously cancelled the other things out. ‘I don’t get it’ she proclaimed. Giggling cannot possibly make up for having two hours sleep and being vomited over. ‘But it does,’ I assured her, knowing full well she thought I was crazy but if she ever had kids she’d get it.

But maybe not everyone does get it. Maybe there are mothers out there who agree having two hours sleep and being vomited on sucks and no amount of cute giggling can make up for it. Maybe they wish they could go back to going to work and focussing on what they were doing, rather than worrying their child shouldn’t have really gone to childcare with a green snotty nose. And perhaps there are fathers who long for the intimacy they used to share with their wives and wish they had kept things as they were. Perhaps these people, if they had their time over, would decide that the glimpses of brilliance just aren’t enough.

I’m not one of them. But I’d be interested to hear from those of you who are……

Did you weigh up the pros and cons of motherhood, or was it a purely emotional decision? And have you ever regretted your choice?

#2 CappucinoGirl

Posted 19 April 2011 - 10:57 AM

I'm sure this is the hardest part of motherhood.

The constant battle of emotions, the ups and downs, I know there are times where I could gladly hand my kids over to a trusted and capable person and I could hop a plane and happily not think about anyone but myself for a few days, I know people who feel completely different and probably see that as utterly selfish, but I have been a SAHM for 10 years and had few weekends away so I guess that changes my perspective a bit,  however I'd only be content to do it for a short amount of time and that to me shows me that I am in the right place, as far as motherhood is concerned.

Everyone goes through the low patches when sometimes it all feels like a chore but if you find you are mostly content with where you are in life when you wake up then that's a great indicator that you are in the right place biggrin.gif


#3 twotoddlers

Posted 19 April 2011 - 11:46 PM

i weighed the pros and cons before i committed to the decision.. but i don't think you can ever be fully aware of what your getting into when it comes to motherhood.. but despite EVERYTHING i have never regretted a second of it..

#4 kemisz

Posted 21 April 2011 - 11:23 PM

Why did you write this blog post?

To sum up your post:

I think there must be parents out there who regret having their children.

I'm not one of them.  I can't relate to them.  I can't seem to find any to quote in this post, but I'm sure they're out there SOMEWHERE!

But I'm still totally not one of them...

Were you seriously sleep deprived when you wrote this?  You couldn't think of anything to contribute other than your assurances that motherhood is totally awesomesauce and you couldn't really understand if someone didn't feel that way?

Do they pay you to write these blogs?  Just curious.

#5 Meandkids

Posted 22 April 2011 - 08:17 AM

QUOTE (kemisz @ 21/04/2011, 11:23 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Why did you write this blog post?

To sum up your post:

I think there must be parents out there who regret having their children.

I'm not one of them. I can't relate to them. I can't seem to find any to quote in this post, but I'm sure they're out there SOMEWHERE!

But I'm still totally not one of them...

Were you seriously sleep deprived when you wrote this? You couldn't think of anything to contribute other than your assurances that motherhood is totally awesomesauce and you couldn't really understand if someone didn't feel that way?

Do they pay you to write these blogs? Just curious.



Harsh.

But this post does have a point.  

There are lots of mothers out there who struggle with Motherhood.  I'm one of them.  Yes, I admit it.  I find it difficult and challenging and exhausting and anxiety provoking.  BUT, I don't regret it.  Having my kids has made me grow in a way I would never have without them in my life.  It's a hard gig but I love them to pieces.  

I am, however, not a natural like some.  Good on you if you are.  Indeed, I am envious.  I really wish I was.  But there are plenty of women out there like me who need to be told that we are good enough, we do a good job and our kids are loved and well looked after.  

Lets try to understand that we're all different and try not to compare ourselves to others in a way that makes some feel like lesser Mothers.

#6 anon60

Posted 22 April 2011 - 08:34 AM

QUOTE
But there are plenty of women out there like me who need to be told that we are good enough, we do a good job and our kids are loved and well looked after.
  IF this is the case, there are other, unresolved issues that need addressing. These issues may have been brough to light by becoming a monther, but not inherent to Mothering itself.

Just my $0.02 worth.  

The "stuff" such as "leisurely breakfasts" etc: 1)very superficical, 2) these happen again when yuor children get older.

This overanalysing & handwringing really gets on my goat.

#7 BetteBoop

Posted 22 April 2011 - 09:06 AM

I agree with kemisz that the tone of bemused wondering doesn't invite people who haven't found parenthood just like a Huggies ad to openly share their feelings.

That aside, I think some people are not supposed to be parents. Infertility is usually bestowed on those who least deserve it but theoretically nature has the right idea in removing the abillity to reproduce. A certain percentage of people should not be capable of creating a baby because they aren't suited to it (for whatever reason, maybe there is a genetic basis to maternal/paternal behaviour) are asshats or perverts.

Unfortunately the infertility lottery isn't that advanced and the winners and losers are randomly selected.

I agree with your DH too. Parenthood is a tough sell- but not just on paper. I think for the most women parenthood involves moments of wondering about life without children, even with longing. I think it's basic human nature to question if the path you've taken is the right or best one.

I don't think regret should be hard to fathom if you've ever thought back to your child free days with longing. Isn't it the same basic thought process, just at a different end of the spectrum than regret?

And for me, 2 hours of vomit and sleeplessness wouldn't be compensated for by a giggle. I would call it a sh*t night but part of the job. I guess we're all different.

#8 2boys2cute

Posted 22 April 2011 - 09:08 AM

While I don't regret my children for one second, there have been many days lately where I've really struggled and have been finding motherhood very tough.  Not that I didn't think it would be hard (I was certainly under no illusions that raising children would be a breeze).  I just didn't expect to feel totally defeated like this some days, and feel that I'm not doing a good enough job more often than not.  My boys are so full on sometimes, I just don't have the energy to keep up with the constant fighting, destruction of the house, constantly looking for stuff they have moved from its original spot.....etc.  I love them more than anything else in this world, but my goodness I'm finding things hard at the moment.  My husband is rarely around to help which makes it harder because I feel like I"m looking after 3 children who all completely ignore me and work against me instead of with me.  The responsibility for pretty much everything going on in our lives falls back on me, and I feel like I am failing miserably with everything.

I don't miss the weekends away, "me" time or leisurely breakfasts, etc that we enjoyed before having children.  I just hate that I feel our lives are completely out of control at the moment and nothing I do or even try to do makes things any easier for any of us.

#9 Hunch

Posted 22 April 2011 - 03:44 PM

I do miss pretty much all those things listed in the article, but like most parents I feel that my children are worth it.

I am interested to hear the decision that Kasey Edwards arrived at after her analysis.  While it is pretty easy for anyone to list the 'negatives' I cannot fathom in any way how she could understand what children can and do bring to your life.

#10 Mel1609

Posted 22 April 2011 - 04:01 PM

QUOTE (anon60 @ 22/04/2011, 08:34 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
The "stuff" such as "leisurely breakfasts" etc: 1)very superficical, 2) these happen again when yuor children get older.

This overanalysing & handwringing really gets on my goat.


Why on earth is the desire to have a leisurely breakfast superficial ? IMO taking some time just for me, or for me and my partner, to simply relax and enjoy a lovely meal, maybe read a paper or catch up on each other's weeks without any interruptions - it's bloody awesome and contributes to my mental wellbeing !

I do not understand however why having children means that these things stop. I still enjoy all the things I used to enjoy pre kids. It boils down to choice, and planning.

These discussions are helpful I think to allow mothers the freedom to speak up at a time when most feel they should be at their happiest. Many feel ashamed, and would consider themselves a failure as a parent. More honestly and less judgement is always a good thing. So why not ask people to share in an open forum ?

Edited by Mel1609, 22 April 2011 - 04:02 PM.


#11 Velouria

Posted 22 April 2011 - 05:27 PM

anon60, you have made your view pretty clear before that you have no time for people who feel challenged and maybe at times suffocated by parenthood. I would argue that you benefit from hindsight, and are not currently in that early childhood zone that most of us posters are in. We all do it to a degree, I myself think newborns are far more adorable and easier now that I no longer have one.

Edited by Velouria, 22 April 2011 - 05:28 PM.


#12 coopersmumma

Posted 22 April 2011 - 05:35 PM

I do not regret having my son. Motherhood is a roller coaster of emotions but in my opinion  it is worth every second of it!  original.gif

#13 CherryAmes

Posted 22 April 2011 - 05:37 PM

I always wanted kids; I ended up choosing a career with children and finally at a late age have one of my own, and don't have any regrets whatsoever. I have had an interesting and exciting life but as you get older I reckon it is more of the same, while embarking on parenthood is a completely new adventure. Maybe it would be different if you went straight to parenthood from school - but then by my age, you'd be done and be ready for the next adventure (career/study/travel) anyway.

#14 Mixed_Spice

Posted 22 April 2011 - 05:54 PM

I can't think that anyone who regretted having their children  or miss their old life would actually be on this forum...

#15 dimensionk

Posted 22 April 2011 - 06:08 PM

QUOTE (Mixed_Spice @ 22/04/2011, 05:54 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I can't think that anyone who regretted having their children  or miss their old life would actually be on this forum...


I was just thinking the same...

#16 PonyoPonyoFishGirl

Posted 22 April 2011 - 06:23 PM

Did you weigh up the pros and cons of motherhood, or was it a purely emotional decision? And have you ever regretted your choice?

LOL I tried to answer but my brain is a mush.  There is a pile of house chores to be done, I am soooo behind at work, I felt sore and achy all over.

I am not blaming 19 m DD for any of these --- if anything, it is PMS ... but right now, this minute, I wouldn't mind being able to escape for a day or two to rejuvenate original.gif

#17 BetteBoop

Posted 22 April 2011 - 06:38 PM

QUOTE (Mixed_Spice @ 22/04/2011, 05:54 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I can't think that anyone who regretted having their children  or miss their old life would actually be on this forum...


There is a huge cross section of people here. There are people who don't want kids at all.

I think it's fair to say in a forum with over 200 000 members that there would be members who are good parents but if they had their time over, they would choose a life without children.

#18 Jekaho

Posted 22 April 2011 - 07:04 PM

QUOTE (BetteBoop @ 22/04/2011, 06:38 PM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
I think it's fair to say in a forum with over 200 000 members that there would be members who are good parents but if they had their time over, they would choose a life without children.


I think this may well sum me up.

Growing up all I ever wanted to be was a mum. But if I knew then what I knew now, I probably wouldn't have had a child. Perhaps that makes me a terrible person/mother, but that's how I feel.

Of course, I can't change the past, and so I do try my very best to be the best mother I can be to my son - who is a wonderful, special and gorgeous (albeit challenging at times like any baby/toddler) little boy.

#19 Molokai

Posted 22 April 2011 - 07:43 PM

Did you weigh up the pros and cons of motherhood, or was it a purely emotional decision? And have you ever regretted your choice?

Like you, I wanted a baby since I was a young child. I loved playing mum to my dolls and my baby brother, baby-sat as soon as I could, studied child care at school. But then, as I got older, I thought more about the type of mother I wanted to be, and what childhood I wanted my kids to have. So, I went back to school, tried hard to have a good career. I got married along the way, but the timing was never right to start a family - not until I finished this qualification, or got that promotion. All trying to do the best for my future kids.

I crave motherhood emotionally, but also the practical side of me has weighed up my options and waited until the 'perfect' time. Hopefully I won't live to regret my decision to wait this long, but I do know the longer I leave it, the harder it will be to leave this life I've become so accustomed to. It's almost a catch-22.

#20 meteor

Posted 22 April 2011 - 09:25 PM

I did not grow up specifically wanting to be a mum. I thought perhaps I would eventually. I did the baby-sitting, and looking after my kid brother - maybe that knocked the allure off? I really never dreamt or aspired to marriage OR motherhood. My now DH talked me around to marriage, and eventually I gave in to his hints about having kids and decided maybe I did want a child. I was never dead against either, just not sure it was what I wanted - at least not yet!! I heard the clock ticking, I missed out on the job I wanted.... so I thought, now or never! I do not regret my first baby. But I do however wish I had not rushed in and had a 2nd child 2 years later - that I do regret. Not necessarily regret having him, but do regret that I didn't space them further apart - 2 super demanding, bad sleepers have just taken such a toll on me that for a long time I was not really coping at all. Thankfully we have finally turned the corner with the youngest at 3.5yrs, who finally can let me out of his sight at least sometimes - and me starting a new part-time job next week! I never missed the parties, or leisurely breakfasts, but I mourned deeply for my lost career. I did regret choosing to live in a remote small town with my babies as juggling work and kids was really not a feasible option (even part-time) in that location. I was jealous of my contemporaries who managed to continue their careers in some capacity as well as have children. But now the kids are older, we live in a capital city again - and it looks like my career is not dead (but very changed) - the regrets may slide away a bit faster. As Velouria alluded - it can depend on what stage our kids are as to how much we may struggle and maybe regret or question our choices.

So in summary - yes I have at times regretted my choices with respect to motherhood - but the older my kids get, the less regrets I have!! If I had replied last year - I would have been saying that I definitely regretted the choice to have 2 kids rather than one!!

PS. I don't know how some posters can not be aware that there really are some members on this forum who really do regret having kids - I distinctly remember reading one mother's post last year with a title that even said something along those lines, and sadly her kids were not at a difficult age.

PS. a few giggles don't really make it all worth it for me - I must not be easily pleased!

#21 DarkestNight

Posted 23 April 2011 - 08:22 AM

I can totally relate to Kasey in the original blog, though I haven't been told by any medical professional "it's now or never".
I grew up thinking I would have kids 'one day'. I'm turning 32 this year, but only got married about 3yrs ago. I hear the clock ticking, and a logical side of me is saying that I should do something soon or I may lose the chance. The other side of me wonders if I really want to have kids at all.
My DH is in the same boat, kinda.... he's younger by a couple of years, and always thought he'd have kids 'one day'. We had a talk earlier this year when I had decided that this would be the year we would start trying, he agreed (eventually  happy.gif ) Now, I've backed off the idea completely.
I just don't know what to do , and I know there's no one that can help with the decision. I am scared I will make the wrong choice, whichever it may be  sad.gif

#22 Super Cat

Posted 23 April 2011 - 01:59 PM

QUOTE (AmityD @ 19/04/2011, 10:41 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
But maybe not everyone does get it. Maybe there are mothers out there who agree having two hours sleep and being vomited on sucks and no amount of cute giggling can make up for it. Maybe they wish they could go back to going to work and focussing on what they were doing, rather than worrying their child shouldn’t have really gone to childcare with a green snotty nose. And perhaps there are fathers who long for the intimacy they used to share with their wives and wish they had kept things as they were. Perhaps these people, if they had their time over, would decide that the glimpses of brilliance just aren’t enough.

I’m not one of them. But I’d be interested to hear from those of you who are……

Did you weigh up the pros and cons of motherhood, or was it a purely emotional decision? And have you ever regretted your choice?


No maybe's about it. They're out there, I guarantee you. Although I don't think they're as mythical and mysterious as you're making out. I think they're just honest. I also don't think it means they love their child any less than you love yours.

Many parents I speak to did not comprehend the loss of self that would come with parenting. It's something you cannot fully prepare for no matter how many dollies you pushed in a pram as a child or how many neighbourhood children you babysat. These parents instictively they put their child first, and even though they long to put themselves first for once they simply don't. They do it because they love their children more than life, at very least their own life, but for many it's not that the 'giggles' make up for the drudgery part of parenting, its because they love their children and will always do what's best for them.

A cooing smiling baby might melt an exhausted Mothers' heart for a few minutes but it doesn't take away the mind numbing tiredness, it just detracts from it for a short time. Siblings playing happily in a back yard might fill a Mothers heart with swoon but she is still fully aware of the hideous mess those same children have made that morning, and how she's the only one around who is going to clean it all up.

I remember hearing people say that the pain of labour is excruciating but once you have that baby in your arms none of the pain matters any more. I call bullsh*t on that one, sorry. The pain was hidious, they were right about that, the baby was glorious, again they were right, but the baby did not negate the pain it bought to get him here, just as the giggles don't negate the loss of a clean house, good career and impressive savings account. They can and do co-exist, both mutually exclusive. You can enjoy the giggles but still hate the mess.

I suppose you could look at it this way. Parents of a terminally ill child are not compensated by the fact they also have another child who is not dying. Being harrassed and bullied in the workplace is not negated by the fact your other co-workers are just lovely. Having your house burgled and your television stolen isn't all forgotten when you realise they didn't steal your jewelery.

Disclaimer: I am not comparing the downside of parenting with terminally ill children, workplace bullies and home invasions. I'm merely using these as analogies, even if they are really bad ones!


#23 hayleymumof3

Posted 23 April 2011 - 03:11 PM

QUOTE
Did you weigh up the pros and cons of motherhood, or was it a purely emotional decision? And have you ever regretted your choice?


No I didn't I found my self pregnant with a surprise baby at 19 I just knew that I was going to be her mum there was no if or buts about it no weighing up the pros and cons of motherhood.  Like Amity I always knew I wanted to be a mum from playing with dolls as a young girl to baby sitting as I got older and playing with just about every child I met.

It was something so ingrained in me that I couldn't deny it.  I have never regretted my choice at all not through PND not through the years where I was struggling to cope with DH working so much.  And 9 years in I still love being a mum.  There are times when it's tough and I wonder what I have stepped into I brought the whole fairy tale of being a mother is so wondrous and joyful and it's all smiles and sunshine.  I really thought thats the way it was going to be.  No one ever told me that my baby would only cat nap for 5 minutes at a time I knew nothing about demand feeding or that babies could scream for hours on end for no apparent reason(well none I could find).  Yet somehow I made it through and my kids are happy and healthy and I can't regret that I have loved them all the way through.

Parent hood is never easy some do regret it but work through it and others leave. Nothing in life is easy but I can never regret that I have 3 amazing children who fight, laugh, love and learn and constantly fill me with joy even when I want to tear my hair out from the fighting.

#24 AmityD

Posted 23 April 2011 - 08:15 PM


Firstly, yes I was undoubtably sleep deprived when I wrote this. I have been sleep deprived for about a year now, one of the decidedly less pleasurable aspects of parenting!

Secondly, I didn't intend to imply that parenting is always a walk in the park, for me or anyone, and that there aren't moments where no amount of giggling can take the edge off. In fact I have written many posts about how us mums need to be more honest about how tough motherhood can be.

However I was more interested in hearing about the experiences of parents who would admit that, perhaps intellectually if not emotionally, they regret having children. Not in the hard moments when we all want to lock ourselves in the bathroom and scream, but all the time. I have no judgements on their feelings, I just thought it would be an interesting discussion.

Thanks for the replies so far. Hope you're all having a lovely Easter break. original.gif




QUOTE (kemisz @ 22/04/2011, 12:23 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Why did you write this blog post?

To sum up your post:

I think there must be parents out there who regret having their children.

I'm not one of them.  I can't relate to them.  I can't seem to find any to quote in this post, but I'm sure they're out there SOMEWHERE!

But I'm still totally not one of them...

Were you seriously sleep deprived when you wrote this?  You couldn't think of anything to contribute other than your assurances that motherhood is totally awesomesauce and you couldn't really understand if someone didn't feel that way?

Do they pay you to write these blogs?  Just curious.



#25 Rachiee

Posted 23 April 2011 - 08:28 PM

I too am one of those mothers who is not a natural.

While I may not be made for being a mum, nothing has ever made me doubt my decision to have a child.

I love sleep ins, nights out, time alone and all that other "selfish" stuff but it all means nothing to me if I don't have my dd.

When my dd cries at 3am I may be a little disgrunted about being woken from peaceful sleep but there is no better feeling than comforting your child and it all becomes worth it.




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Every face is partially obscured, but there's no denying the happiness and love in the faces of the royal mum and bub.

7 tips for a kid-free trip, not a guilt trip

Although I?m jumping out of my skin to take my child-free holiday, I?m dreading the goodbye. But I?m determined to make the most of it without tarnishing it with guilt or sadness about leaving the kids.

Your baby?s developmental roadmap

Caring for your new baby can feel like driving along a dark highway without a GPS: you know your destination ? a happy, healthy human being ? but you?re not sure whether you?re heading in the right direction.

Breaking out of the isolation of motherhood

There can be many reasons for mummy isolation ? and you don?t have to be a new mother to feel like you're often doing it all alone. Here, mums share their stories of feeling isolated, and what they do to try to break out of it.

The billionaire baby with $10,000 worth of prams

When money is no object you can go all out when it comes to baby transportation, as this billionaire socialite has shown.

Medication helps depressed mums to breastfeed

Breastfeeding mums are often told their medication may pass into their milk, but a new study suggests the benefits of taking antidepressants are greater than any risks to baby.

 

Free Printable Activities

Keeping little hands busy

Free printable acitivity pages like colouring in, cutting, word finders, mazes, maths activities and puzzles.

 
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