Indeed, having a baby is a lot more than just nine months of pregnancy. You’d have to think about newborn struggles, sleepless nights, childcare arrangements, financial considerations, your child’s education, and how it is going to affect your relationship.
You’re, after all, making an immense and irreversible commitment to care for another human being.
So, start communicating with your spouse. Here are eight things to absolutely thrash out before taking the first step to becoming parents.
1. Why you’re doing it
It’s a good idea to figure out the reasons why you want to become a mum or a dad. Perhaps you’ve come to a point in your marriage where you feel ready to raise a child. While there is no right answer to this, some reasons might raise a red light.
Fiona Choo, 33, who has been married for four years and is now eight months’ pregnant with her first child, says she felt pressure to try for a baby almost immediately after her wedding. Her reason: “Because all my friends and colleagues were having babies”.
It’s not uncommon for one person to feel more ready than the other.
However, her husband helped her realise that neither was settled in their careers at that point, so it just wasn’t the right time. “I’m glad we waited to achieve some stability in our finances and careers before going ahead,” she says.
2. What do you expect from parenting
Now’s the time to list the positive and possibly negative things that you can expect from becoming a parent.
Some couples are unaware of what parenting entails ― for instance, does your husband know that one of you would have to wake up several times a night to feed or change the newborn? Did you realise that you’ll need to make childcare arrangements ― register at infantcare, or hire a nanny ― for baby? Or is one parent willing to stay at home with the baby?
This is also the time to suss out how ready your spouse is. It’s not uncommon for one person to feel more ready than the other. In these cases, it’s important to find out what worries the more cautious spouse and address these concerns.
3. Is your relationship secure?
This one’s a biggie. Having a baby together is an important, life-changing decision.
It’s also the first of many other important decisions you’ll be making as regards your child. This includes choosing your baby’s name, what childcare arrangements to make, what religion he’ll follow, which primary school he’ll attend, and so on.
Consider whether your relationship is stable and if you work well together. Do you tend to agree on important issues? How do you deal with disagreements? How do you solve problems and are you ready to compromise?
4. What sacrifices are you willing to make?
Perhaps your husband just secured a well-paying job. That puts you in good financial stead to be having a baby – but on the other hand, he does have to travel every month. Talk about whether you want him to spend more time at home if you do have a baby, and is he ready for that?
Ask yourself if you’re ready for full-time dedication to a little human being who may need to be attached to your nipple around the clock.
Ask yourself if you’re ready to dedicate yourself full-time to a little human being who may want to be attached to your nipple around the clock. That might mean giving up the MBA you’d wanted to do, or sacrificing nights out with your girlfriends, at least for a few months.
Be honest with yourselves as to what you are willing to give up, and determine if this is really the right time to make this big commitment.
5. Can you take care of yourself?
It may seem like a no-brainer, but you need to have your life in order before adding a child to the mix.
Discuss what’s going well for you, and whether you need support in certain areas ― it could be your own physical or mental health, or perhaps a relationship with a family member that needs mending.
Says mum of one Valeria Yip, “I wasn’t in a good place with my own mum after I got married, and it was one of the things that I needed to reconcile with before we had a baby.”
6. Are you financially secure?
Having a baby is a huge financial commitment. Just the cost of giving birth can make any couple flinch.
Plus, many couples may feel like they want to have their own place, and own a car to ferry their growing family around. The amount can add up quickly, as you throw in the cost of childcare arrangements, as well as insurance and medical bills, if your child falls ill.
If your finances aren’t on track, it may be a good idea to seek financial counselling before you take the next step to becoming parents.
If your finances aren’t on track, it may be a good idea to seek financial counselling before taking the next step to becoming parents.
7. Will you be responsible?
Becoming parents requires a huge shift in mindset. You aren’t just responsible for yourself anymore – from the minute you learn that you are pregnant, you’ll be making sure that your baby’s well-being comes first.
From taking your prenatal supplements, to avoiding food that isn’t good for your baby, you’ll start to realise that your body isn’t just your own anymore. For the dad-to-be, he’ll soon come to the conclusion, that in no time, his every word and action, even his attitude, will be scrutinised (and likely mimicked) by his mini-me!
If you’re not sure whether you’re ready for such responsibility, perhaps its best to discuss it with your spouse, or even other young parents, to find out how they handle it.
8. How will you prepare for a new addition?
If pregnancy and parenthood are in the pipeline, talk to your significant other about what you can do to get prepped for parenthood. For instance, make a commitment to build that nest egg, bone up on what to expect during pregnancy, and how to handle a newborn.
It’s difficult to prepare for something if you have no clue exactly what’s coming. But rest assured knowing that you’ll be getting a lot of “on-the-job training” training. Even though most parents seem like they bungle around the first couple of months, they’ll eventually find their rhythm.
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