There is no straight answer to this million dollar question that most married couples face today. If both the husband and wife are working and are ambitious about their careers, then starting a family goes down in the priority list. The increasing number of couples in their 30s without kids has led to the media coining phrases such as DINK - Double Income No Kids and DINS - Double Income No Sex.

Career ambitions and commitments, however, do not stop parents and relatives from putting pressure on a couple to start a family. If one has been married for 2 years, the couple is bombarded initially with a subtle "When are you going to give me the good news?" that transforms into a more direct "When am I going to become a grand parent?". With no signs of progress on that front, parents and relatives get anxious wondering if there's something wrong. Slowly, the setting is made for a more direct approach that involves "talking" directly, counseling and describing the pros and cons (which is almost none always) of starting a family early.

Ultimately, the decision of when to start a family lies with the stakeholders - the to-be-parents in this case. Here are a few factors to consider and analyze before delaying it any further:

  1. Biological : Perhaps the most important factor to consider is the biological clock ticking inside. While you might finally be satisfied with your high flying career at the age of 37, there might be little time left to start 'trying'. Research has shown that while male continue to produce sperms even as they age, the quality of the sperm produced gradually decreases as they age. In the case of women, their ovulation cycle take a hit and the probability of reproducing decreases to less than 25%between the ages of 35-40. Ideal age for conceiving is stated to be between early 20s and mid 30s.

  2. Financial : The second most important factor is if you are financially in a comfortable position to raise a kid. Starting a family does not end with giving birth to one. Expenses grow exponentially until a kid reaches the age of 20 assuming he/she is self-sustaining by then. If the husband and wife are working and one of them has decided to quit the job, there will be a sudden loss of one income. Can the monthly expenditure be covered with one person's salary or have you saved enough to sustain the household comfortably for a few months or years? This requires adequate planning so that you can start investing today. Even if you have not begun investing and the kid is on its way, it is the right time to be mentally prepared and start putting a plan in place rather than getting bogged down by the numerous expenses that will start appearing in your monthly bills - starting from the birth of a kid to medical expenses to schooling, scholarship/guitar/soccer classes etc. And don't forget kids' clothing is no cheap.

  3. Physical : As we age, our patience and the physical stamina to carry the foetus for 9 months and raise a kid after birth is decreasing. A mother aged 24 will definitely be more active, energetic and enthusiastic about the whole process than one who has conceived at 36. After child birth, it calls for numerous nights without sleep for months on end. So it is important to strike a balance of conceiving at the right age.

  4. Mental : One of the factors that most couples discount is the mental factor. Are you too young and immature to start a family? Or are you too old and mature to enjoy the simple pleasures of life? Age has nothing to do with maturity. Do you have it in you to run the show on your own and raise the kid without getting paranoid when he/she falls sick etc..Are you mentally compatible with each other as a husband and wife to shoulder this additional responsibility? - the arrival of a kid changes the lifestyle atleast for 2-3 years - with a lot of sacrifices in the begriming such as restrictions on eating out, the loss of freedom of packing your bags on a Saturday morning for a long weekend drive.

  5. Support system : If both of you are financially obliged to continue with your jobs, then do you have a good support system that can take care off the kid - it could be either of your parents or a good da care center for kids. It is good to give this aspect due thought and plan ahead.

With careful planning, you can have the good life and enjoy without sacrificing much.