If you think being a parent is in your future, it’s essential to ponder some crucial questions to know if you’re ready to have a baby. We’ve compiled eight questions you should ask yourself before beginning your fertility treatments, ensuring you’re prepared for the journey ahead.
After you and your partner (if you have one) have decided that you want to create a family, you may find that your thoughts are preoccupied with images of your future children and spouse. It’s true that most parents will tell you that you’re “never really ready to have a baby,” but there are still some subjects you might want to discuss with your partner before you conceive.
We chatted with Jean Twenge, author of The Impatient Woman’s Guide to Getting Pregnant, about critical issues to address before your little bundle of joy is conceived. Twenge shared her insights on the themes we should be thinking about. Although no two individuals’ or couples’ requirements will ever be exactly the same, thinking about the answers to these questions might give you a head start on some of the things you should think about before joining the ranks of parents.
1. What are my plans for the pregnancy?
You may be familiar with the process of pregnancy, but there are still some things to think about if you and your spouse plan to conceive via penile-vaginal interaction: for example, whether you want to “simply see what happens” or employ a more systematic approach. The same holds true for couples who choose to try alternative pregnancy methods; they must discuss the possibilities they wish to pursue.
“That’s likely to come up shortly, and there are usually different perspectives on how it should go,” says Twenge, emphasizing the urgency of broaching the topic early. Having a backup plan ready in case conception fails is also a good idea. When would you go to the doctor, for example, and what other treatments are you willing to try first? Penile-vaginal sex couples who have tried to conceive for a year without success should see a doctor, and those trying to conceive after the age of 35 should do so after six months of unprotected sex.
2. What’s the state of my finances?
Bringing up a child may be costly, and so can the various childcare alternatives available to you, regardless of whether you intend for one parent to stay at home or use daycare, a nanny, or another type of childcare provider. According to Twenge, “having an accurate picture of the possibilities available for child care can be a useful motivation to save.”
Be aware that many daycare centers have extensive waiting lists, particularly for infant care, before deciding which one to choose. Policies differ from center to center, but if there is a specific location you have your heart set on for the baby, find out if you should get on the waiting list as early in your pregnancy as possible.
It is also an excellent opportunity to review the budget that you have set for your household. It is crucial to have a conversation about how you intend to spend your money both before and after the birth of the baby right now.
3. What kind of parental leave policies does my employer have in place?
According to Twenge, it is essential to review your options for maternity, paternity, and parental leave as soon as possible so that you have a better idea of how much time you are allowed, how much pay you will receive while you are on leave, whether or not this year’s vacation time can roll over into left, and other pertinent information.
There is a large amount of variation in parental leave policies, so it is in your best interest to learn what the guidelines are for your firm and if at all feasible, plan accordingly. You could stack leaves, for instance, if you have a partner eligible to take leave at any time. This would allow you to have one partner stay at home with the infant for longer. In a related vein, if you work in a field that is affected by the changing of the seasons, such as teaching or accounting, you may want to consider this while making plans for your pregnancy or delivery.
4. Do I need a therapy check-in?
Because becoming a parent brings about a lot of changes, and because it can definitely bring up problems from your own upbringing, it is a good idea to investigate whether or not counseling might be helpful to you before you give birth to your first kid. In addition, if you are in a committed relationship and things have been tumultuous in that partnership, it is in your best interest to seek the advice of a relationship counselor right once. Even if your relationship is strong and healthy now, it may be helpful to talk about how having a child will put your relationship to the test and change it.
“Don’t go into pregnancy believing that pregnancy and having a baby will improve your relationship,” says Twenge. “It might bring the two of you even closer. However, there are a great many other potential points of contention.” When a baby is delivered, there is a lot of work, and you’ll need strong communication and negotiation skills to get it all done. Bringing a child into a relationship that is already experiencing significant difficulties is likely to make those difficulties even more difficult to manage. Focus on the two of you first before bringing in a third wheel that will make a lot of noise but will be really cute.
5. How do I intend to assign new responsibilities to other people?
Babies bring with them a whole new set of obligations and duties, and while it’s possible that you won’t be able to anticipate everything that will happen in your new life as a parent, it’s still a good idea to think about how you intend to divide up the job of parenting before the baby arrives. If you are going to be a single parent, this may mean putting together your own “village,” consisting of people who will help you, such as friends and family, as well as professionals who will be paid to assist you, such as a night nurse, housekeepers, or nannies.
When you have a baby, the amount of work that needs to be done around the house is going to seem like it has multiplied by three. If you are in a relationship, one of the things that you will want to discuss is who will take care of the baby during the nighttime feedings, the nights when the baby just won’t sleep, the laundry, the meal planning, the grocery shopping, the cooking, and the late-night store runs.
6. How do I plan to take care of myself?
It’s important to consider how you and your partner will handle your own self-care when there is an entire another human being (or human beings, if you’re open to having more than one child!) who is completely dependent on you for their care when you become a parent because the job can be very demanding. When you are a parent, taking care of yourself can require some forethought as well as some give and take on your spouse’s side, if you have one. Self-care is a critical component of taking care of yourself.
For instance, if you won’t have paid childcare, you might need to alternate taking care of your children with your husband or another responsible adult to have time to focus on your own health and wellness. If you intend for one of your partners to handle the pregnancy, postpartum, and nursing obligations, this may be of utmost significance for them.
7. Which beliefs should I emphasize most when teaching them to my child?
If you and your spouse do not observe the same faith, you need to have a conversation about what religion (if any) you want the kid to be raised in and any rites that go along with that faith. Additionally, you should discuss this now if one of you is multilingual and would like the baby to be reared in both languages if any of you is bilingual. Other crucial topics to discuss include immunizations, spending time with each other’s relatives, and the characteristics of each other’s different cultures that you and your partner consider essential to maintain.
8. Do I need to change locations?
Tiny babies don’t take up much room, yet their noise level is enough to wake up an entire sleeping family (and possibly even the neighbors) for the night. Think about whether or not your existing living situation is suitable for the arrival of a child, and if it is not, think about what might need to be adjusted.
And finally, but certainly not least, keep in mind that while it is true that making preparations in advance can be of assistance, there are times when not even the most well-laid plans can truly prepare you for parenthood, and there are other times when the unexpected is simply a part of the journey.
However, there is such a thing as “planning too much,” according to Twenge. “I’m a planner myself, and I agree that having these dialogues is a good idea,” she says. “As you continue, you will discover the answers to some of these questions. You will never have children if you wait to start a family until every aspect of your life is totally organized and under control before you do so. Taking a chance and putting your faith in something can be beneficial in the long run.”
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