14/08/2014 12:52 BST | Updated 22/05/2015 06:12 BST

How Do You Know If Your Family Is Complete?

How do you know if your family is complete?

It's one of the hardest – and least talked about – parts of being a parent: drawing a line in the sand and deciding there will be no more babies.

BK (before kids) it's easy to imagine that you'll have the planned amount of children, then stop having them and just get on with bringing them up. Turns out, life's not that simple. Because not having any more kids isn't just about not giving birth to a baby again. It's much more complicated than that.


It's about realising that particular stage of your life is over. That you'll never see a line on a pregnancy test again, get away with having marmite and jam on the same cracker, or smell that heart-swelling milky scent of a newborn's head. That stage of motherhood has passed. Which is a tough thing to accept.


Rebecca Waters, mum of one and pregnant, told us: "I don't know whether it's just hormones and how well I feel and excited about the little one's arrival but I already feel sad that our family will be complete. My head knows that it's right but I guess it's the definite 'no more' thing which is hard to face..."

There's also, to an extent, the fact that being pregnant, or the possibility of being pregnant, makes us feel more youthful. Being told your 'childbearing years are over' makes you feel an old spinster aunt in a Victorian melodrama, regardless of the fact you could complete your family in anything from your mid twenties to your mid forties.


​It's the finality of it. The fact that the womb in question will not be used again. You don't have a retirement party for any other organ, do you?


Not everyone feels like this though. A difficult birth or a struggle to conceive can make deciding your family is complete a lot easier. "We always wanted two", mum Clare Archbold explains. "And having one of each made that an easy decision. But what really confirmed it was spending so long in hospital. Three and a half weeks and a few blood transfusions later, I knew I couldn't go through that again."

The last baby in the family is often a 'surprise' though. "Remember, less than 60 solution – but the trouble is that doesn't work very well either!"

Most accidents are 'happy', however. As mum of three Eilidh McIntosh tells us: "We were done after two, but when our third 'happy accident' arrived we realised we hadn't been done at all. We're definitely done now though!"

But what if you've talked to your partner at length, made the decision, sent the cot to the charity shop – but still can't feel comfortable about it? Jessica Chivers, life coach and author of 'Mothers Work! How to Get a Grip on Guilt and Make a Smooth Return to Work' has some tips for dealing with that broody feeling:

Try isolating what exactly it is about wanting another child that feels so desirable, for example, bringing a new life into the world or the sense of purpose you get from looking after a baby.

Start to address the need or desire in other ways. It might sound clichéd, but there's always the possibility of a young animal to care for – and of course, let's not forget that our children need us well into their teenage years, albeit in a different way.


If you feel like your 'clock is ticking', imagine you're 10 years younger and ask whether if you had the same life and number of children, would you really want another?


Focus on what's good with your life and the possibilities that are present. It's a good way to play up the positives of what you have right now – as is chatting it through with a friend who can give you a more objective picture.

Talk to your partner. Getting their point of view may well change your mind about how amazing it would be to have another child. In fact, taking their opinion into account could change your view completely.

More on Parentdish: Have you made the no more babies call?