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How do Amish people have kids?

The Amish are a conservative Christian group known for simple living, plain dress, and reluctance to adopt many conveniences of modern technology. Amish beliefs and traditions have an impact on many aspects of life, including family planning and childbearing.

Amish Views on Family Size

Amish families tend to be large. On average, Amish couples have 5-6 children. Families with 10 or more children are not uncommon. This stems from their religious beliefs about children being gifts from God and their reliance on large families to work and sustain their agricultural way of life.

According to Amish doctrine, God opens and closes the womb. Therefore, they do not use modern contraception or actively plan the number of children they have. Instead, couples are open to as many children as God gives them. Children are seen as a blessing, so the more the better.

Large families are also beneficial in an agricultural society. More children mean more help around the farm and homestead. Young boys learn farming and trades, while girls learn homemaking skills. Amish children are expected to begin doing chores by age 5-6. An Amish couple with 10 children has built-in helpers and future caregivers for their old age.

Courtship and Marriage

Amish youth begin courtship around ages 16-18. Courtship consists of supervised visits between the young couple. They are only allowed to hold hands before marriage. Kissing and other physical affection is forbidden. After several months of courting, marriage typically takes place between ages 18-22.

Marriage and having children immediately follows courtship. There is no concept of delaying childbearing until later in life. Newly married Amish couples are expected to start families right away. Being married and not yet pregnant is uncommon in Amish society.

Divorce and birth control use are prohibited by the Amish church. Couples commit to staying together for life and accepting the children God gives them. This allows childbearing to continue uninterrupted by modern family planning methods.

Amish Beliefs about Pregnancy and Birth

Pregnancy and birth are viewed as natural processes ordained by God. Few interventions are used during pregnancy and delivery.

Most Amish women see an Amish midwife for prenatal care. A few visits to check on the progress of the pregnancy is considered sufficient. Ultrasounds and other testing are avoided unless a complication occurs. Genetic testing and screening are generally not accepted.

Most Amish women in labor deliver their babies at home attended by a midwife. Hospital delivery is allowed if a health issue necessitates it, but the preference is to deliver at home without pain medication or medical intervention.

Amish midwives provide prenatal education on nutrition, exercise, avoiding harmful substances, and preparing the home for delivery. Prenatal vitamins or medications are rarely used. Amish pregnant women are expected to continue their household duties and chores up until the birth.

Spacing Children

While Amish couples do not deliberately limit family size, there are practices that naturally result in spacing children:

  • Breastfeeding – Amish mothers exclusively breastfeed infants for about 6 months which delays return of fertility.
  • Separate beds – Most married Amish couples sleep in separate twin beds except for intimacy which limits chances for conception.
  • Older age at marriage – Amish marry later than general society, resulting in fewer total childbearing years.

These natural methods mean Amish children are typically spaced 2-3 years apart even though parents do not actively try to postpone pregnancy. Still, at a rate of a new baby every 2 years, a couple married in early 20s can have 10+ kids after 20-30 years.

Menopause and Infertility

Like all women, Amish women eventually undergo menopause bringing an end to childbearing years. The average Amish woman has her last child in her early-40s and reaches menopause in mid-40s to early 50s.

An Amish couple will have as many children as nature allows during their marriage. If infertility issues arise, they accept it as God closing the womb and do not pursue modern fertility treatments. Adoption is also very rare since large families built through childbirth is the cultural ideal.

Impacts of High Fertility

The Amish population is growing rapidly due to high fertility rates along with low infant mortality and early age at marriage. Here are some impacts:

  • Amish communities are constantly dividing and establishing new settlements once they reach 150-200 families. There is not enough farmland to sustain larger groups.
  • Women spend most of their adulthood pregnant or caring for young children which limits education and abilities to generate income outside the home.
  • Husbands carry the sole burden of providing for very large families which often requires working long hours at farming or a trade.
  • Some health issues are more prevalent in the Amish including certain genetic disorders.

Despite these challenges, the Amish continue to highly value large families. Children are seen as both a blessing from God and vital workforce in maintaining their traditional agrarian way of life.


In conclusion, Amish couples have large families of 5-10+ children due to their religious beliefs that children are gifts from God, need for farm labor, young age at marriage, prohibitions on birth control, and natural fertility spacing methods. Pregnancies are left up to fate and deliveries handled at home by midwives without modern intervention. High fertility rates shape various aspects of Amish culture and society. While outsiders may see their large families as unusual, for the Amish this is simply their traditional way of life.