Deciding to Have Children in Cuba

By Nike

HAVANA TIMES – I have a friend who got tired of waiting for better times in our country to have a child. She is 38 years old and her biological clock is ticking away, close to the high-risk pregnancy stage, so she decided she wouldn’t wait any longer, three months ago.

Lots of people criticize the fact that she chose the worst time to fall pregnant. I believe there’s never been a right time in this country to take that wonderful step and become a mother. But in any case, there have been opportunities – both intimate and personal – that couples have enjoyed. Or like my friend who always dreamt of becoming a mother, and finally went through with it.

I know lots of women in Cuba who remained childless waiting for things to get better in the country. Others waited for the opportunity to emigrate and let their best years fly them by. There’s no doubt that very little is said about this subject, in spite of the trauma that this has in every woman’s life and it’s one of the factors of an increasingly aged population in Cuban society.

My Singer and my friends diapers.

I, on the other hand, support my friend’s decision and sitting in front of my old “SINGER” sewing machine, I am getting her “basket” ready, as we say here. She managed to get hold of some mosquito nets and I’ll make muslin nappies for her baby.

I hope that Cuban women may one day have children without uncertainty and an uncertain future, and I especially hope that they don’t think that emigrating is the only way to make their dreams come true. That they can make their dreams come true in the country that saw their siblings, parents and grandparents come into this world.

Read more by Nike here on Havana Times.

Nike

I was born in Havana, Cuba. All my life I have had the sea as a landscape. I like being close to it, feeling its breeze, its smell, as well as swimming and enjoying the wonders it gives us. Thanks to the manual skill that I inherited from my parents, I have been able to live off crafts. I work primarily papier-mâché, making puppets for children. I write for Havana Times for the possibility of sharing with the world the life of my country and my people.


3 thoughts on “Deciding to Have Children in Cuba

  • October 6, 2021 at 6:36 pm
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    Not only Cuba but many countries in the Western world, such as Italy, are facing declining population because Italian women are either not having babies or are waiting until the very last moment to have just one child.

    Of course the economic circumstances influencing a couple’s decision to have a child is clearly more difficult in Cuba because of the dire economic circumstances and the perilous pandemic being experienced today.

    In the past, the economic stagnation which Cuba has been exposed to in the last 60 plus years has not stopped women from having children whether at a very early age or near the twilight of their childbearing years. The majority of Cuban women do not have the financial resources or the wherewithal to simply decide that it is better to emigrate and have the child in a more prosperous country rather than in their birth place.

    Even in rich Western countries many women are postponing childbirth in order to pursue career opportunities, participate in the workforce, save money for a house, travel, and other restricting reasons. Some citizens are simply abandoning childrearing altogether because the disadvantages clearly outweigh any advantages.

    In an article entitled “Italy’s plummeting birth rate worsened by pandemic.” (Mark Lowen, BBC News, Sardinia, June 09), a couple explains their predicament this way: “ . . . buying a house, owning land and still having enough money to give children opportunities is impossible.”

    Furthermore, on a more macro level the low birth rates and birth rates at later stages in life have serious economic impacts. “It’s a problem that much of Europe is facing and could threaten economic growth, pension systems and public services.” (Ibid).

    The negative consequences are exceedingly exacerbated more so in Cuba because the country has little to no economic growth to speak of but constant economic stagnation; therefore, as Nike has surmised Cuban society looking into the future will be negatively impacted.

    Ditto, the same story applies in Canada. “Fertility hits record low: Canadian moms getting older, giving birth to fewer kids” (Carlito Pablo, September 30th, 2020).

    “Canada’s TFR (Total Fertility Rate) has been below the replacement rate of 2.1 births per women since 1971, meaning that the number of babies being born is not enough for the current population to replace itself, Statistics Canada noted.” (Ibid).

    In most Western countries like the two stated, Canada and Italy, government immigration policies can help alleviate any economic challenges the economy may face because of a lack of local human resources projected into the future.

    Unfortunately, Cuba does not have a viable immigration policy which would help boost its population numbers to spur economic activity, if required. In fact, the reverse is true where young, potential, child bearing Cubans, both men and women as couples, are leaving (fleeing?) the island in droves leaving behind, as Nike, writes “ . . . an increasingly aged population in Cuban society.” Sadly, many young Cubans feel: “. . . emigrating is the only way to make their dreams come true.”

  • October 5, 2021 at 6:10 pm
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    It would be interesting to know what the average age of expectant mothers in Cuba is today. I remember a Cuban study of 10 years ago that was buried quickly after publication that showed Cuban women were the oldest women in Latin America to bear their first child. At the time it was the first time Cuban women creeper past Chilean women. The Castro dictatorship at the time blamed it on easy access to birth control and free abortions. I imagine that even fewer women are carrying pregnancies to term today than ten years ago and like the woman in this article, when Cuban women do decide to get pregnant, they are older than they were ten years ago.

  • October 4, 2021 at 10:24 pm
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    A brief but touching article reflecting a seldom discussed facet of life in Cuba. One hopes that by the time the baby arrives, that the pandemic will be under control in Cuba and that both mother and child are able to form that wonderful bond.

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