Aida Zabidi
It is always interesting to speak to people regarding their reproductive choices. 

At an age where most of my friends and peers are getting married and starting to have families, I find it interesting to see how few people actually don’t plan their families, and how insulted people can get when you advise them on these choices. 

When I worked in the district, part of my job was to attend to antenatal patients, and quite often women would come in with a second pregnancy very close to their first. I would always ask them if this was planned, and more often than not they would shrug and smile, and sheepishly tell me that they did not expect to get pregnant again so soon. I would just advise them to give themselves some time in between pregnancies to let their bodies recover. 

There would also be ladies who would come in on their sixth or seventh pregnancy, claiming they did not want to push away Allah’s rezeki, and I would just smile and tell them that it was also imperative to plan for these children’s futures, and to please consider taking a break from childbearing to focus on rearing their current brood. 

It does seem that a large majority of Malaysians do go into marriage either not thinking about planning their family, or the buzzword seems to be ‘jangan menolak rezeki’, or don’t deny the blessings that are given to you. 

Family planning IS important. 

It is every couple’s right to choose for themselves when they want to start a family, but it is important to go into the process making a conscious decision to conceive and thinking about the challenges that come with it. 

For newly married couples, it is a healthy discussion to have before marriage -  at least to ensure that both parties are on the same page with regards to reproductive choices. After all, some people might want to enjoy the company of their partner prior to starting a family.

It is especially important to start taking care of the mother’s physical health, to start taking folic acid prior to trying to conceive to reduce the chance of neural tube defects. For women who have had prior complicated pregnancies, it is even more essential to drop by your obstetrician and find out your risks about future pregnancies.

And it so SO important to discuss caring responsibilities and careers and what will happen after the baby is born  - I personally find it important to negotiate who does the nappies!

There's a lot that goes into this whole process. When I ask about family planning, in no short terms am I telling you not to get pregnant – but it is something that warrants a little more thought and planning; after all, one is placed with the responsibility of bringing new life into the world, and all the wonderful things that come with it. 
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