The term "baby panic" refers to the fear that prospective parents may have when they know they are not ready for children, but worry that the time on their biological clocks is running out.
Compared to previous generations, Millennials face new challenges when it comes to balancing the desire for a prosperous career while also envisioning a future with children. While more and more people choose to go to college or university and gain valuable knowledge to build a career, family plans are often put on the back burner, but it's not because they feel as though starting a family is unimportant. Some women also may struggle to find a supportive partner, or feel as though they need to have a stable relationship before thinking about having children, which can be difficult in modern dating culture.
When it comes to "baby panic" it's also possible that women feel that perhaps they could be ready for a child, but if they were to have a baby, some other area of their life would begin to unravel. In a segment with ABC News, one woman shared her thoughts, "If I have a kid ... it feels like I'm stepping off a train and it will keep moving without me". Her concern for not meeting personal goals prior to having a baby is one that holds true for many other women and men who are nearing a biologically imposed "endpoint" for having children.
So what is the solution to "baby panic", and how can young people combat concerns related to building a family while worrying that they aren't where they need to be? Fertility specialist and clinical senior lecturer Dr. Raelia Lew weighed in on the subject. She shared that while fertility treatments or egg freezing may seem appealing to delay the child-bearing process, those solutions are often more medically complicated than many care to realize and that they are not necessarily feasible for everyone. Dr. Lew shares that systemic change is in order to help prospective parents feel better supported and comfortable in their careers so that they can take time off after baby. She also shares that there is no real timeline that anyone needs to follow when it comes to meeting goals and having children. While it's entirely reasonable to have a "pre-baby bucketlist", there are no specific guidelines that need to be met before one has a child. Plenty of women are raising babies without the assistance of a partner, more men are deciding to take time off to care for their children, and couples and singles alike are able to become parents later in life without complications.
Ultimately, while "baby panic" is a very real phenomenon, it's important for those wanting to be parents to weigh the pros and cons of the decisions that they are making and to not feel as though they need to conform to a restrictive schedule for meeting goals.