Are you ready for motherhood? Picture: Pexels
Fifty years ago there was an expectation that motherhood was a natural progression for women, st arting a family is no longer a given for today's generation.
But if you're not fully certain whether or not you want to have children, how do you go about making such a major life choice?

It's the question tackled in a new book Motherhood, Is It For Me? by psychotherapists Detroit-born Denise L. Carlini - who was inspired by her own process of deciding she didn't want children - and San Francisco-based Ann Davidman, in which they present a 12-week programme of guided visualisations and self-exploration to hep women gain clarity. 

Don't let personal circumstance muddy the waters 
When you're trying to make a decision you may spend too much time looking at practicalities such as finances or how long you've been with a partner, which can actually confuse you and distract from the real issue.  

"Our program encourages and supports women to put the externals on the back burner in their life by helping them understand the benefits of doing so," Denise explained. 
"Prematurely entertaining externals, before you know what you want, wastes time. 
"While we understand the activity of looping through the consideration of external circumstances, it just isn’t helpful until you actually know what you want. 
"We have created The Mantra to calm anxiety and create some internal spaciousness."
The mantra is reinforces the idea that not knowing what you want is temporary and that it's fine to be unsure. 

Stop feeling ashamed 
"Many women feel alone and many experience shame when they can't decide whether or not they want to become a mother," Denise said. 
"What happens here is that women internalise the 'pronatalism' that still abounds and then feel as if something is wrong with them if they don’t know or don’t feel strongly they want to become a mother. 

"The shame may be in the mix because they don’t yet know what they want and they feel that as a woman they should.'
It can help to consider the fact that mothers also feel similar shame and isolation over feelings they believe aren't socially acceptable.  
'Mothers have been writing more about the mixed feelings they have and this is of great service to all women. It shows there is a grey area and it’s natural,' she explained. 
Explore your fears 
"Fears play a big part in being undecided. Most are natural and need to be accepted, some need to be explored and de-bunked,' Denise explained.
"The most common are fear of living with regret, fear of making the wrong decision, fear of losing a partner or a relationship turning sour.
"Some additional fears include: you won’t be perfect, you will be judged by others, fear of loss, or fears of the physicality of pregnancy and/or giving birth.
"Rather than ignore a fear, we think it’s more important to explore a fear and understand where it comes from. 

'If the fear doesn’t lose its grip through exploration, acceptance can follow. Many fears come from assumptions or conclusions that were made early on in one’s life. 
'These have an underside that needs turning over for closer examination. Occasionally, some may need help or outside expertise to work through.'

Accept that you'll grieve, whatever your choice 

"There is grief work to be done with either choice. It is inevitable. Choosing one thing says no to something else," Denise said. 
"Every single choice we make results in missed opportunities, but this isn’t really what’s so very important with such a defining choice as being a parent or not.
You’re not going to know precisely what you have to grieve until you’ve discovered your true desire or you have the clarity you didn’t have before. 
"Until you know what you want for you and WHY you want it you won’t know what you’ll have to grieve. 
"Yes, it’s true that any choice involves loss, but you won’t know the details of that loss until you’ve worked through what it is that you do want. It’s very different for each person and it’s very personal."