One of the most important choices a woman makes in life is deciding if and when to be a mother. Some women may feel all but certain that they do or do not want kids. Others might fall into the gray area of not knowing what they will desire down the road. The unknown could make you feel overwhelmed and unsettled by thoughts of the future.

Societal pressures, along with the opinions of friends and family, might make the decision even more unclear. Luckily there are ways to make an informed choice that works best for you and the kind of family you want.

Here are five resources to help you plan your reproductive journey.

Choosing a Birth Control Method

Birth control gives women power over their bodies and sexual health. Contraceptives are an excellent resource for those on the fence about parenthood or those wanting control over when they reproduce.

Birth control pills, patches, rings, and shots are some of the main options to consider. An intrauterine device (IUD) is another popular selection among women.

Have a discussion with your partner about which methods are right for you and your desired timeline. Whatever you choose, talk to your healthcare provider about what will work best for your body and future plans.

Exploring the Process of Egg Freezing

Egg freezing is becoming an increasingly popular choice for those that want the option to have kids down the line. Women consider egg freezing for several reasons. This may include being diagnosed with conditions or circumstances that could affect future fertility.

Some women worry about their biological clock, and don’t want to rush a relationship just because they want to have kids. This method saves a woman’s ability to get pregnant in the future, providing more time to decide on whether or not motherhood is right for them.

The process includes harvesting eggs from the ovaries, which are then frozen and stored for use later, if desired. Women will generally have to take fertility drugs to trigger ovulation so multiple eggs can be retrieved.

Sperm is not required for the procedure since the eggs will not be fertilized before they are frozen. Most women store their eggs for 5 to 10 years. Then, if she decides to use her eggs, one can be thawed, combined with sperm in a lab, and implanted in her uterus.

Visiting a Fertility Specialist

Like any life-changing choice, you want to have all the facts before you make your big move. Visiting a specialist can give you an overview of the current state of your fertility.

Your first visit will usually entail fertility testing for both you and your partner, if applicable. The specialist will also go over your medical history, possible concerns, and questions.

Your healthcare provider will review your test results and outline a treatment plan if needed. If you are having trouble conceiving, you will be offered options to increase your chances of getting pregnant.

Treatment plans could include lifestyle changes, fertility medicines, surgery, or in vitro fertilization (IVF). You may have to try out multiple options before ultimately conceiving.

Discussing Your Future in Therapy 

Deciding whether or not to be a parent is a tough space to navigate. Remember that you don’t have to walk the path alone. Processing your thoughts and feelings is easier when you have a mental health professional as your guide.

You may choose to see a therapist on your own, with a partner, or both. Therapy is a safe space to work through challenging discussions and understand more about what you want.

Some women may feel a sense of shame regarding their natural inclinations toward motherhood. These feelings apply to women who are sure they want kids, those who don’t, and even those who are unsure. A judgment-free zone is crucial to allowing yourself to own what you truly want.

Finding a Support Network

You don’t have to make this monumental and overwhelming life decision alone. Your partner, family, and friends can all be fantastic spaces of support while you weigh all of the possibilities.

Female friends who are likely facing similar questions are one of the best sources of support and encouragement. Other women can genuinely empathize with you and provide insight into what they’ve learned during their journey.

Building a solid support system is especially crucial if you do decide to have a baby at some point. Motherhood can feel lonely and challenging at times.

You want to have people in your circle who will walk you through one of the most significant steps you can make in life. Putting that network in place now could take a load of stress off down the road.

The Choice is Yours

The decision to bear a child is hardly ever an easy one to make. The choice might come with the fear that what you want now won’t be the same in a few years. It also doesn’t help that the world constantly reminds women that their biological clock is ticking.

Surround yourself with the right resources and support networks as you move through this life chapter. Try to drown out the unnecessary noise from outside opinions, media representation, and societal expectations. Throughout your unique journey, remember that the choice is ultimately and totally yours.