Are You Ready for a Baby?
Once you and your partner decided you want to have a baby, daydreaming about your new family—and the fun you'll have creating it—might be consuming most of your thoughts these days. And while you've probably heard from most people with children that you're "never completely ready to have a baby," there are a few discussion points you and your guy should cover before you get pregnant. We talked to Jean Twenge, author of The Impatient Woman's Guide to Getting Pregnant, for important topics to tackle before your little bundle of joy is conceived. If you're not ready to tackle these issues, you may not be ready to get pregnant. Ask yourself and your partner these nine questions before you start trying.
1. How are you going to get pregnant?
Okay, obviously you know how to get pregnant, but when you're trying to get pregnant there are different schools of thought. One is "let's see what happens," and the other is about timing sex. "It's important to have this discussion now because that's going to come up soon and couples often disagree on how it's going to happen," says Twenge. The man is usually more likely to be in the camp of "let's have sex whenever and see what happens" and the woman is more likely to want to plan things and know what's going on with her body. There are compromises to be had in between those two points of view, but it's an important thing to talk about.
2. Are your finances in good shape?
Yes, we all know babies are expensive. But you should be discussing whether one of you is going to stay home with the baby or whether junior will be in day care (or with a nanny, family member, etc.) as all can be expensive options. "Having a realistic view of childcare options can be a good incentive to save," says Twenge. If you settle on a day care center, know that many have very long waiting lists, particularly for infant care. Policies vary across centers but if there's a particular place you've got your eye on for the baby, find out if you should get on the waiting list early on it the pregnancy.
It's probably a good time to redo your budget and realize there might be other things you won't be able to afford when it was just the two of you, like vacations, expensive shoes, and lavish gifts. Coming to terms with your "family budget" and how you'll be spending your money before and after baby is an important discussion to have now.
3. What's your job's maternity policy?
It's worth reviewing this now so you have a better idea of how much time you're allowed, what your pay will be when you're on leave, whether this year's vacation time can roll over into your maternity leave, and so on, says Twenge. Maternity policies vary widely so it's best to know what your company's rules are. Check out his paternity policy and what those options would be as well. If his company allows him leave, you might want to plan the timing so he's home with the baby once you go back to work. Related to that, if you have a profession that's seasonal (perhaps a teacher or an accountant), you can consider planning your pregnancy or birth around that.
4. How has your relationship been lately?
If your relationship has been rocky for some time, seeking a relationship counselor now is a good idea. "Don't go into pregnancy thinking that pregnancy and having a baby is going to improve your relationship," says Twenge. "It might bring you closer. But there are a lot more things to fight about." When a baby arrives, there's a lot of work to be done and you're going to need strong communication and negotiation skills. If your relationship is already hitting serious snags, adding a baby could likely lead to bigger problems. Work on you two first before adding a very squeaky (yet adorable) third wheel.
5. Are you BOTH ready for more chores?
Sure your guy may joke around and say he's never going to change a diaper, but it's better to find out how serious he is (and whether you're okay with that) before your stinky new addition arrives. It's a good idea to also discuss midnight feedings, laundry, late-night store runs, and overall household tasks that are going to seem to triple once you've got a baby.
6. Are you ready to give up "me" time?
Motherhood is the most selfless job you're ever going to have and putting your independent self on the shelf (at least for some time) is something you need to be mentally prepared for. If you're not okay giving up hours with friends, time in the gym, one-on-one time with your partner, and your alone time, it might be worth seriously considering if you're ready for a baby right now. Perhaps you still have a few life goals, travel destinations, or adventurous things you want to tackle over the next few months before you get pregnant.
7. What religion will your baby be?
If you and your partner don't follow the same religion you should discuss what faith (if any) you want the baby to be raised in and any ceremonies that go along with that.
8. Will our baby be bilingual?
If one of you speaks two languages and wants the baby to be raised bilingual you should chat about that now.
9. Do you need to move?
While tiny babies don't take up much space, their noise level can surely disrupt an entire sleeping family (and neighbors) all night long. Discuss whether you'll need to move into a bigger home and when that's going to happen. No one wants to be packing up her kitchen when she's nine months pregnant!
"I'm a planner myself and I agree having these discussions is a good idea, however there is such a thing as 'planning too much,'" says Twenge. "Some of these things will work themselves out as you go along. If you wait to have children until everything is completely settled in your life, you'll never have children. There is something to be said for taking a leap of faith."