Some people have just one child, while others have two or three, and still others have even more. When couples have large families - which, by today's standards, could mean four or more children - there is often a presumption that they have always planned on having many children. While this is certainly true in some cases, the size of a couple's family often has more to do with chance circumstances than with careful planning well in advance.
In spite of the abundance of various highly effective birth control methods, many OBGYNs say that the majority of their patients' pregnancies were unplanned. Often, the first child a couple has comes as a surprise. Once they start having children, however, many couples want to have them fairly close together so if they do have more, they do so in the next few years.
What influences how many children a couple will have? Often, the biggest factors are born of their experiences in child-rearing rather than their preconceived notions before they became parents. For example, women who have very difficult pregnancies are unlikely to try for more children, whereas women who enjoy pregnancy or have relatively positive birth experiences are more likely to be ready to repeat the process. Also, if parents have multiple children of the same gender, they may wish to try for the opposite gender, as well.
Additionally, people who come from large families are usually more open to the idea of having multiple children than those who were only children or only had one sibling. And people with family histories that put their kids at greater risk for genetic disorders often do not wish to take a chance of having children with severe physical or mental problems.
For the parents out there, how many children do you have or plan to have? Did you decide on a number ahead of time or was it more of a decide-as-we-go process?