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Is motherhood a choice?

In Mexico, Sandra Bello proudly declares that she does not ever want to become a mother and defines herself as a woman in other ways. Contrary to popular beliefs, she writes, “my uterus is not a ticking time bomb.”

In San Francisco, Sarah Windels discovers she is accidentally pregnant, disrupting all her plans to pursue her dream career as a photographer. After many sleepless nights, she decides to keep the baby, resolute in her determination to combine motherhood with her professional dreams.

In the film “Plum Flower,” a mother in China is told by her family that she needs to kill her newborn baby girl. She takes the baby into the woods with a vial of poison, and has to decide whether to kill her helpless daughter.

In an age where women have more and more success in the career world, does society still determine our worth by our ability to bear kids? Is it a good thing that modern medicine now allows women to push motherhood into their late thirties and early forties? How much control SHOULD we have over whether and when we become mothers?

Join the conversation.
Sandra Bello
As a woman, I have chosen to make of my world a place where I can decide for myself. I don’t reject the nature of my being, but I want to live my womanhood without it necessarily implying motherhood. I believe I can live alternate experiences of creating and nourishing life, and I believe other women of my generation feel the same way.

I invite you to join this conversation and share your thoughts and experiences on choosing to experience alternate motherhoods.

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83 - 64 of 83 Next | First
Anne John
Posted on Wednesday, July 13, 2011 1:16 AM
A childfree by choice lifestyle is still an evolving concept in India. It is often looked down by many as the ultimate “unwomanly” thing to do. Everyone is responsible for their actions and decisions and if someone genuinely feels that they don’t have it in them to be mothers-then isn’t better that they don’t? What if they do have children because everyone says so and then end up regretting their kids? Wouldn’t that be a horrible tragedy? God knows we have enough child neglect and abuse cases already. Having a child can be life-altering in more ways than one can possibly imagine and it is an extremely personal choice. Yet women who choose to go childfree have to be prepared for raised eyebrows, weird looks, inquisitive questions, thinly-veiled remarks as well as a phenomenal amount of pressure both from family and society as a whole. If this is the case in developed countries, it is even worse in developing ones like India-where women are expected to have a child after marriage by default. Yet some women have had the courage and the conviction to defy convention. Do read about them in this article
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Posted on Monday, July 23, 2007 10:49 AM
And this is the translation into English of the insightful comment by Rosario Taracena. Click on her Web link and read her incredible article. Thank you Lucila and Rosario for offering us your point of views and expressing yourselves so eloquently.

Rosario's comment: "The generation of non-mothers has come to Mexico! I have spent more than 10 years discussing the issue of not wanting children with my friends, family members, acquaintances and strangers because since I was a teenager I knew that I did not want to be a mother. In am a collaborator with a magazine in Mexico and one of my essays is about women that do not want to have children has had hundreds of responses on this Web site:

The discussion about maternity have been very heated, but I believe that we are beginning to create a space for greater tolerance and acceptance of different forms of being a woman that are not chained to the traditional and home-based roles."
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Posted on Monday, July 23, 2007 10:46 AM
Dear all,

Here is the translation into English of the wonderful comment by Lucila Guerrero:

"I used to think that I would never be a mother and I was even afraid of becoming pregnant and giving birth. I was very proud of being a professional and independent woman and I though that having a child would change for the worst my life.

I finally allowed the nature to take its course and after 10 year of being with my partner, I became pregnant without planning on it.

Maternity made me see everything from a different perspective. It made me contemplate and understand the essence of what being a human being is. I assumed my maternity as the main responsibility of my life and I decided to dedicate myself to my son and my family for at least a couple of years…in reality I don’t know for how long.

I believe that a mother’s job goes beyond watching over our children; our work is to guide and accompany the development of a life that is just beginning, to educate a person that will later on impact our society. This is one of our greatest contributions to the world.

Motherhood is the most wonderful thing that has ever happened to me. I feel fortunate to be able to accompany and discover the process of life. I don’t feel at all relegated to a subordinate role in life now that I am taking care of my son and my household. I believe that it is a difficult work that demands a lot of force, patience, determination and above all, love."
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Rosario Taracena
Posted on Wednesday, July 11, 2007 4:20 PM
¡La generación de las no-madres ha llegado a México! Llevo más de 10 años discutiendo el tema de no querer hijos con amigas, amigos, familiares, conocidos y desconocidos porque desde la adolescencia supe que no quería ser mamá. Soy colaboradora en una revista de México y uno de mis textos sobre las mujeres que no quieren tener hijos ha tenido cientos de respuestas en este sitio web:
Las discusiones sobre la maternidad siguen siendo muy acaloradas, pero creo que estamos influyendo a crear un espacio de mayor tolerancia para las nuevas formas de ser mujer que no estén ligadas a los papeles tradicionales y domésticos.
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Lucila Guerrero
Posted on Friday, June 22, 2007 12:45 AM
Alguna vez pensé que no quería ser madre y también tenia miedo al embarazo y parto. Me sentía muy orgullosa de ser profesional e independiente y pensaba que el tener un hijo cambiaría las cosas.

Finalmente dejé a la naturaleza que actuara libremente y después de 10 años con mi pareja quedé encinta sin esperarlo.

La maternidad me hizo ver todo de otro punto de vista. Me hizo regresar a la escencia de ser humano. Asumí la maternidad como la mayor responsabilidad de mi vida y decidí dedicarme a mi hijo (2 años) y a mi familia por lo menos unos años... en realidad no sé por cuanto tiempo.

Creo que la labor de madre va más allá de los cuidados, nuestra labor es guiar el desarrollo de una vida que comienza, es educar una persona que luego actuará en nuestra sociedad y ese es uno de nuestros aportes al mundo.

Ser madre es lo más maravilloso que me ha sucedido. Me siento afortunada de poder seguir y descubrir el proceso del desarrollo de la vida. No me siento en absoluto relagada en un rol subordinado por ocuparme de mi hijo y de la casa. Creo que es una gran labor que requiere mucha fuerza, paciencia, constancia y sobre todo amor.
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Yvonne Bagnis
Posted on Tuesday, June 19, 2007 12:41 PM
I agree Chika, but that´s the point, we have a natural intinctis, that´s why we can and we should make a choice, and never felt the motherhood like an obligation or duty, noup, it´s our right, our choice if ours natural instincts want it.
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chika ekwugha
Posted on Tuesday, May 29, 2007 12:41 PM
i'm not a mother right now, and i wouldn't disagree with women who say that motherhood is a choice. but i believe that if female hormones flow in substantial quantity within a woman, she should naturally feel the need to make children at some point in her life: it's called maternal instincts and even if it's not the only factor that characterizes us as women, it sure is a fulfilling role to play as a woman. so i give props to every mother who has embraced her role in life, particularly those who have done so against odds. i hope and pray to be a mother someday.
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Posted on Sunday, May 27, 2007 12:55 AM







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B Walker
United States
Posted on Tuesday, May 22, 2007 8:14 PM
I believe motherhood is a choice. I grew up in a time of too many unwed mothers. All around me girls were getting pregnant with 1 or 2 kids before leaving high school and no support of the babies's father. I decided then I would not be another statistic. I am now in my thirties and childless. Sometimes I long to have a child and sometimes I realize what a blessing is not have children. I was talking to one of my friends, yesterday from highschool, she stated that her daughter was 15 and son 10. And soon she would be free of the burden of taking care of them. What does that mean? Free? She's always been free to do as she pleases with or without children. My sister always says don't have kids. I ask why? She says they are a pain. I think that statement is so wrong. I always reply well you could of given him up , you didn't have to raise him or take care of him. Motherhood most defintely is a choose. Someone woman have kids and choose not to be mothers.
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Olatundun Aborisade
Posted on Thursday, May 17, 2007 5:22 PM
Motherhood is not a choice, but i understand that it can be quite challenging. I am not a mother yet, but very soon i plan on being a mother. I believe motherhood can be enjoyable if you have a great spouse someone that knows God and understands that equality is essential in marriage.
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Shahzada Sher
Posted on Sunday, May 13, 2007 4:31 AM
92 Years of Amazing Mom Moments

WebMD Feature from "Redbook" MagazineJennifer Graham Kizer

Being a mom is a private journey, but the events that shape us as moms are often lived out loud on the national stage. Here, 81 moments that have made motherhood what it is today.

The first Mother's Day (May 1914). President Woodrow Wilson designates the second Sunday in May as Mother's Day, calling it "a public expression of our love and reverence for the mothers of our country."

The epidural (1930s). Before John Bonica, Mla.D., invented the epidural block, relief for the pains of labor meant being knocked out. Today, women can be awake for this momentous occasion.

The Common Sense Book of Baby and Child Care (1946). Once upon a time, doctors (mostly men) preached a strict, one-size-fits-all approach to raising children. Pediatrician Benjamin Spock gave moms permission-revolutionary at the time-to trust their own instincts. Dr. Spock's guide has sold more copies worldwide than any other book besides the Bible.

Folic acid (1940s). A groundbreaking medical discovery: the nutrient helps prevent birth defects. In 1998, food companies begin using it to enrich bread, pasta and other cereal grains. Birth defects of the brain and spinal cord drop by 26 percent.

Lucille Ball's pregnancy (1952). The star's pregnancy is written into I Love Lucy-a prime time first. Scripts are reviewed by a priest, a minister, and a rabbi to be sure they are inoffensive, and CBS executives insist on using the word "expectant" instead of "pregnant." But fans love it, and the episode featuring Lucy's delivery sets a new ratings record.

La Leche League (1956). At a time when formula was fashionable, seven determined moms banded together to create a breast-feeding support network. Today, LLL boasts over 7,000 volunteers dedicated to educating and supporting women in the nursing process. (Yes, some of those dedicated volunteers can be a teensy bit scary sometimes, but the fact that breast milk is better for your baby can't be denied.)

Are You My Mother? (1960). When we were kids, this classic children's book summed up our love for our mothers-and every child's longing to belong to someone. That message of mother love still rings true for moms and kids today.

Disposable diapers (1960s). Invented in the late 1940s, they weren't widely available until 1961, when Pampers were introduced-and became an instant hit.

JFK's funeral (1963). The endlessly reproduced photo of a stoic Jackie Kennedy holding the hands of her young children, Caroline and JFK Jr., is now a classic image of maternal strength and grace.

The digital ear thermometer (1964). It makes taking temperatures faster and more comfortable than the anal alternative-for both moms and babies!

The breast pump (1960s). Even after Mom goes back to work, babies can still have breast milk. And now dads can participate in feeding, too.

Husband Coached Childbirth (1965). Robert Bradley's book was an influential first step in opening the delivery room door to dads. (In 1973, only 27 percent of hospitals even allowed fathers to be in the delivery room; today, it's taken for granted that Pop will be in on the birth.)

Sonograms (1960s). Doctors begin monitoring babies just weeks after conception. Nowadays, mothers can even order a sonogram in 3D. No more waiting for the birth to wonder, "Does he have his dad's nose or mine?"

Rosemary's Baby (1968). No matter how colicky your newborn seems, Rosemary's Baby is worse. Which is why this horror movie is strangely comforting.

911 (1960s). When government and law enforcement agencies call for an easy, universal emergency phone number, AT&T suggests 911. Even a six-year-old can remember it. (In fact, last December a 4-year-old girl in Salt Lake City used it to save her mom's life.)

Sesame Street (1969). Designed to help preschoolers transition from home to school, it was the first children's educational show of its kind. And
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Shahzada Sher
Posted on Wednesday, May 09, 2007 3:21 PM
when man picks up orphaned cat or dog he/she learns about animals intelligence only then ,many people today only feel the exotic pets are only a dumbplaything...
with bearing children a woman first discovers herself ,layers of her self and with babies ,toddlers,teens discovers true life values ,life intelelligence and worth......................untill fifties families had definition and security and wealth and now in modren prosperity and fast life some things more than social security and wealth are becoming important ..............................most wealthy nations realised they only had money and kept turning away and held deaf ears and are wound up in wars.........................imagine ! wars! issues larger than life due to some shortage..........
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Bojana Kos Grabar
Netherlands, the
Posted on Tuesday, May 08, 2007 2:29 AM
Geraldine, you raised one of the most important moral challenge at which all those women, who defend that the right of motherhood is a female issue exclusively, fail. the challenge includes suspicions regarding men's social behaviour, their faith and sincerity. to every man there is at least one woman involved, and that's his mother. when poligamy is tolerated, this social fact includes the most important aspect of social life, which is physical and mental health; to lie and cheat constitute the most important parts of the individual's social capabilities, to select priorities based upon on what people experience, but don't get a properly suitable chance to elaborate the opportunities happened - this are matters whereas social status quo is created. neglecting these, a society provokes unrest. i wish you well and your children to will make prosperous lifes.
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Geraldine Arancillo
Philippines, the
Posted on Monday, May 07, 2007 8:03 PM
Deciding what I want in life and what i want to be started when I was 10 years old. I have role models that made me decide what i will be in the future. Although motherhood is one of them, I've foreseen that i will be a mom at the age of 25, which fortunately happened but unfortunately not the way I wanted. The father of my eldest was married as I have learned later when I got pregnant two months after. I was already working but the pregnancy didn't hinder me to do things. I know it maybe hard bringing the child up single-handedly. I quit my job, got into the food business to help support my pregnancy until the birth of the child, and after a couple of years, finished my studies. My baby was already a year old when I obtained my degree in librarianship. I was able to get work in the library field and still hoped that I could find someone who would complete my dream of having a good family. Five years later, I thought I found him. I fell in love, lived with the man, got pregnant again, gave birth but left alone to care for the children. It took me awhile to realize that everything is very difficult. The pain that caused the breakup, the abandonment resulted to a series of depression. Until one day that I realized that I don't have to delve on the past and the hurt because two little souls need me. I stood up, decided to take a chance on myself. I know it's kinda difficult to be a single mom on two kids but I went on. I took a job and luckily, until now, I am surviving.

The bottomline here is that no matter what hardships or difficulties i face as a single mom, still it did not hinder me to do things i wanted. I can still go to movies with friends, i can go places wherre i want to be, and hopefully soon, i would be able to finish my masteral degree no matter what. Life is still beautiful i guess.
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Amy Oyekunle
Posted on Thursday, April 26, 2007 8:58 AM
Are you ever ready? I always knew I be a mother one day :) but really I stumbled into it. I can't say I was ready to be a mother. I was old enough by all standards (27) when I first got pregnant and married But I can't really say I was prepared for the tremoudous change I was going to undergo (Physically and emotionally). I still wanted to do MANY things,see many places etc. oh, don't worry I still intend to see/do those things, it's just on hold for a while. Despite the fact that many young women are expereincing motherhood much later than our mothers, society is still opening up to the idea of a woman first - mother hmm MAYBE.....
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shamini chandraprakash
Posted on Wednesday, April 25, 2007 1:28 AM
My culture does not accept a woman to be pregnant before getting married and it is against my religion to be one. I am holding on to this belief and am happy with what I am now. In my country, it is against the law to be pregnant before getting married although you are 18 or above. Here, it is against the law to give birth and raise a child without getting married. If you want to have a child, you can either adopt a child legally(which requires a lot of procedures) or you can give birth after getting married legally.

Maybe being in an Islamic country, the law is strict. Although being in an Islamic country, I practice Hinduism freely. Not trying to tell that my country is free from social problems or premarital pregnancy. There were cases where young girls as young as 15 years old gave birth in the public toilet and threw the newborn in the toilet bowl and many more other cases. What is important here is to educate the girls about sex education and safe sex. Most of the parents in my country are still not that open yet on these kinds of issues. Parents are still reluctant to talk to their teenagers about safe sex etc. I think, everything starts at home. Parents have to take the first step in educating their children about premarital pregnancy and its consequences so that one does not have a negative thought about motherhood.

What I am trying to stress here is that everyone has the right to choose and decide. But why should we choose or do something that can create problems and take away our happpiness? Do something that can make you happy. If you think motherhood does not suit you, then do not take the chances. Do not get into trouble by getting pregnant when you are not ready or when yo are too young, too young even to take care of yourself or else you will end up blaming everyone and everything. To me, motherhood is something very interesting and wonderful that you should experience when you are READY!!!!
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golda minoza
Philippines, the
Posted on Monday, April 23, 2007 11:57 PM
I believe that deciding about anything that concerns our body is a right that we hold as women and as human beings. The right to choose whether to be a mother or not, is therefore a natural right and not a right that is bestowed by society. Recognizing the right to choose for one's own body, however, does not exempt any woman from society's perception and this perception's corresponding ramifications, positive or not.

So when speaking about choices in motherhood, my thoughts go to young teen-age women who become pregnant out of their own actions, but have to contend with what others decide for them because of their society's perception about motherhood.

Since most laws do not recognize individuals as fit to decide for themselves at a certain age (in the Philippines, it is 18), the fate of pregnancy of women below that age is decided by social perception. This perception becomes detrimental when the pregnancy of these young women are seen as a problem and the social perception is taken as the best solution. These so-called "solutions" (to something that is not a problem in the first place) include marriage, change of residence to avoid social stigma, abortion, etc.

In this context, these young women are more often made to deal with, not only of pregnancy itself, but primarily of the social perception that comes with it.

It is for this reason that I see education as essential for us, women. And this education does not start from puberty. Definitely not. Our education about what it means to be a woman starts from our very own physical birth and continues throughout our entire life. We are conditioned about how to think of our bodies throughout our lives - from how to urinate in our toilet training, to the first clothes that we are made to wear, to the games that we are encouraged and prohibited to play, to the kind of jobs we are recommended to do - and therefore, this education, this way of imagining our very own physical selves should start from birth. Female toddlers should already be educated on safe and harmful touches to prevent from being sexually harassed, little girls should be taught about the feelings associated with puberty and the possible consequences of these feelings, adolescents be informed about the changes in our bodies at different phases and be taught how to value our bodies.

All these, so that women, regardless of age, make informed choices when deciding for things that concern our bodies.

Choices become more meaningful and relevant when they are coupled with knowledge.
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shamini chandraprakash
Posted on Monday, April 23, 2007 8:04 AM
Juanita, don't think that by having children you will not be able to pursue your career. I became more successful after giving birth to both my children. Motherhood taught me to become a more knowledgeable, patient and independent woman. You would want to become better in the eyes of your children and tell them that you are capable of doing something. One day, your children will see you as their idol and would want to be just like you...successful. Don't bother about society because at the end of the day it is you that need to feel happy and accomplish with whatever things you are doing or have done. And finally as you have said...the decision is solely ours...the strong and proud...women! What do you think?
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juanita freitas
United States
Posted on Monday, April 23, 2007 7:55 AM
But to never hold a new being in your arms that grew inside your body is an experience you shouldn't take for granted, no I don't believe women should wait on men hand and foot in this day and age not everyone needs to have a husband to get pregnant. I do however believe it is our right to have children by choice and the decision shouldn't be taken lightly either way you go.
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shamini chandraprakash
Posted on Monday, April 23, 2007 7:48 AM
Heidrun, I exactly understand when you said that you love your daughter like crazy. That is what every woman should feel and experience. And that is what giving birth and raising a child is all about. Put curiosity and desire aside. Motherhood gives you wonderful experiences. It teaches you to be patient, more knowledgeable and teaches you how to handle tantrum and problems more motherly. Not only in certain cultures that motherhood has become a choice but in this modern world, I believe it has indeed become a choice for bolder women. Unlike during my time, a motherhood was to prove to in-laws and people around, that I am fertile and can bear a child. For me, I have never regretted having my children as they are my love and my life. They have taught me to become a more patient and independent woman. After giving birth to my second child, I continued my studies and was working at the same time. It took me four years to complete my studies. It made me proud to be able to study and to look after my school going children. Nobody helped me throughout except for my husband. I am proud to tell my children that in spite of being a mother, I was a student, a loyal wife, a patient mother, a good daughter in-law and a sincere daughter for my old parents. Motherhood will not stop you from being successful or takes away your freedom but it teaches you the most important lesson in life which is to be independent.
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