Things to Consider Before Having a Baby
Having a child is a momentous and life changing event and the decision to do so should come with serious communication and self reflection. Child rearing may be a learning process–with many parental decisions that can be made or changed along the way–but there are some important things that need to be considered much in advance. Here’s what you and your partner should think about before welcoming a baby.
1. Are You Both Ready?
The most important question to ask yourselves is whether or not this is the right time to start a family. Both members of a relationship should feel as though they are mature enough and ready to take on the responsibilities of parenting. This means putting the needs of the child before your own and changing your schedule to adhere to the baby’s. Perhaps the most important criteria in determining whether to have children is the state of your relationship. If you and your partner cannot compromise, sacrifice, depend on one another and communicate, then you will be unable to handle the immense changes that are soon to come your way. One of the biggest mistakes one can make is having a child for the sake of saving a relationship. Often, the problems that existed before only become worse after having children.
There are several online, self-tests available to asses both mental and physical readiness for pregnancy and child rearing. It may help create a checklist of all the things you and your partner would like to do, enjoy and accomplish together as it will be difficult to pay as much attention to one another once children enter the equation.
2. Parenting Strategies
To avoid future conflict, and to prepare for the challenges of parenthood, begin to ask important questions of yourself and your partner and discuss parenting styles and strategies. Important things to think about include:
- Should one parent stay at home with the child?
- Will you hire a maid/babysitter to care for it?
- How should the parenting responsibilities be divided?
- How should you resolve differences of opinions in the future?
- Should you co-sleep?
- Should you breastfeed?
- What language would you like to teach your children?
It’s not necessary to have everything completely figured out beforehand, but both of you should be on the same page when it comes to your goals for the child. Thinking about such things can mentally prepare you for parenting. It will also help you and your partner to assess your readiness.
The age at which a mother chooses to have children can have a long term impact on maternal and child health. Women who have children at a young age are more likely to experience depression and age faster than those who have children later in life. Having children too late (after 35) increases the risk of miscarriage, complications during pregnancy, and birth defects. According to Psychology Today, the biological and biological best time to have children is between the ages of 29 and 31.
4. Your Health and Lifestyle
One of the most important things when trying to conceive is maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Before getting pregnant, you should consider whether your physical health and lifestyle are good enough to sustain you through pregnancy and child rearing. If not, you should adjust your lifestyle to meet these requirements. The ideal body mass index for a woman is 19-24. It’s also advisable to cut down on caffeine, alcohol, and to get sufficient sleep.
Get an idea of the maternity (and paternity) leave policies at your workplace. Also begin thinking about how you and your partner plan to balance family and work life.
Having a child is expensive. Before deciding to get pregnant, take a detailed look at your financial situation to assess whether you’ll be able to afford immediate necessities such as diapers, clothes, health insurance and formula milk. Also start thinking about how you plan to fund your child’s education. If you think you’ll have difficulty making ends meet, you should definitely delay having children.