Am I Ready for a Baby? 8 Questions to Ask

If parenthood is in your future, ask yourself these 8 questions before you start trying to conceive.

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Once you (and your partner, if applicable) decide you want to have a baby, daydreaming about your new family might start consuming most of your thoughts. 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 may want to consider covering before you get pregnant.

We talked to Jean Twenge, author of The Impatient Woman's Guide to Getting Pregnant, about important topics to tackle before your little bundle of joy is conceived. While no two couples' or individual's needs will ever be the same, these questions can help give you a jumpstart to some things to consider before joining the ranks of parenthood.

1. What Are My Pregnancy Plans?

Okay, so you might know how pregnancy happens, but when you're trying to get pregnant through penile-vagina intercourse with a partner, there may be some considerations to keep in mind, such as if you want to "just see what happens" or if you'd like to take a more strategized approach. And of course, individuals couples using other pregnancy methods will need to talk about what options they plan to try.

"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. Additionally, it might be helpful to have some kind of game plan in place if conception doesn't occur. For instance, what other options are you willing to try and at what point would you visit a doctor? For reference, it's recommended that couples using penile-vagina sex consult a doctor after 1 year of unprotected sex hasn't resulted in a pregnancy or after 6 months if the person looking to be pregnant is over age 35.

2. How Are My Finances?

Raising a baby can be expensive, as are childcare options, whether you plan on one person staying home or using daycare, a nanny, or another childcare provider. "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 also a good time to take a look at your family budget. Discussing how you'll be spending your money before and after baby is an important discussion to have now.

3. What Are My Job's Parental Leave Policies?

It's worth reviewing maternity, paternity, and parental leave options now 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 leave, and so on, says Twenge.

Parental leave policies vary widely so it's best to know what your company's rules are and if possible, plan accordingly. For instance, if you have a partner who can take leave at any time, you may be able to stack leaves to extend having one partner home with the baby longer. 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. Do I Need a Therapy Check-In?

Parenthood brings in a lot of changes and it can definitely bring up issues from your own childhood, so it's a good idea to explore if therapy may be helpful to you before becoming a parent. Additionally, if you are partnered and your relationship has been rocky, seeking a relationship counselor now is a good idea. And even if you are in a good place currently, it still might be helpful to discuss some of the ways that having a baby could challenge and change your relationship.

"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. How Do I Plan to Delegate New Responsibilities?

Babies create a lot of new roles and responsibilities and while you may not be able to predict everything about how your new life as a parent will go, it's still a great idea to consider how you plan to delegate the work of parenting. If you're going into parenthood solo, this might look like creating your own "village," such as with support from friends, a birthing team, and perhaps paid help such as a night nurse, housecleaners, or a nanny.

If you're partnered, some things you'll want to cover include: midnight feedings, nights when the baby just won't sleep, laundry, meal-planning, grocery shopping, cooking, late-night store runs, and overall household tasks that are going to seem to triple once you've got a baby.

6. How Will I Handle Self-Care?

Parenthood can be a very demanding job, but that's exactly why it's important to least consider how you will each approach self-care when there is a whole other human (or humans, if you're open to multiples!) completely reliant on your care. Self-care is part of caring for yourself, but when you're a parent, it also can take some planning as well as some give and take on your partner's end, if you have one.

For instance, if you won't have paid childcare, you may need to trade childcare duties on and off with a partner or another trusted adult so you can get time to care for yourself. This may be especially important for the partner who is handling the pregnancy, postpartum, and nursing responsibilities, if that's part of your plan.

7. What Beliefs Are Important to Instill in My cChild?

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. Additionally, if one of you speaks two languages and wants the baby to be raised bilingual you should chat about that now. Other important aspects to discuss may be about vaccines, time with each other's respective families, and what cultural components you each find important to carry on.

8. Do I 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. Consider if your current living arrangements are conducive to welcoming a baby and if not, what might need to change.

And last but not least, remember that while planning ahead can be helpful, sometimes, not even the best-laid plans can truly prepare you for parenthood; and sometimes, the unexpected is simply part of the journey.

"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."

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