Starting a family is a natural, but big, step for just about anyone. All of a sudden, the two of you go to three (or more!) members of your family. Even despite all the planning and reading, you may do, no one ever feels 100% ready. There will always be those anxious moments, times of doubt, or difficult steps to take.
Before you go down that road and start thinking about all the pregnancy precautions and pieces of advice you’re bound to receive, there are plenty of other things to plan out first.
Make Sure You’re Ready
Hopefully, this conversation took place a long time ago, but if not, dive into it again. Deciding to have a baby is bound to be one of the most important decisions of your life. Not only will you and your partner have to discuss to make sure you’re prepared and ready, but you’ll also have to agree on when you are ready to start trying.
Just as with everything else, there will have to be small compromises here and there, but remember to reach an accord as soon as you both can.
The Living Situation
Now, this doesn’t mean that you both will have to change rooms, convert your office into a baby-changing station or something like that, but have you thought about where the baby is going to sleep?
There is no blanket right answer and many families choose different options. Some immediately put the baby in their crib in a separate room while others may have the crib in their bedroom. During the first six months, some mothers like to keep the baby in a bedside cot or crib for breastfeeding purposes.
Speaking of breastfeeding…
While about 80% of all mothers choose to breastfeed, you should think about if you are going to follow the same path. Some mothers choose not to breastfeed so they can have less restriction on their diets or they’re worried about infection. Talk with your partner and doctor before making any kind of firm choice.
Money, Money, Money
Life can be expensive sometimes. Having a baby is no different. Raising a child for 18 years costs an average of at least $233,000, according to the U.S. Food and Nutrition Service.
While thinking 18 years in the future seems daunting when you’re just trying to get through the next 18 days, you still need to be thinking about the money side, especially in the early going.
Mom is going to have to take off work or quit work altogether to take care of your newborn child. Can your family survive on a single income? You may have savings built up, but you need to make sure it will be enough to provide for your family.
This also puts the father in a tough position of possibly being the sole provider but also wanting to be an excellent parent. Today, fathers are spending more and more time with their children than before and many see it as a crucial part of their identity.
Try to make a plan ahead of time to see if both of you can take off work or have a flexible work schedule. Even though the baby is going to be more drawn toward the mother for the first six months (and potentially beyond), both parents are going to want to play a crucial role in their newborn’s life.
The Rest of the Family
While there might be other, more important things to consider, the last item on our list is thinking about how to deal with the rest of your family.
No doubt the future grandparents, aunts, and uncles will be over the moon about the new addition to their family and will want to be as involved as they can.
But you should start thinking now about the delivery. It’s going to be a hectic, crazy day. Do you want your whole family to be at the hospital with you? If you have an extended family, will they all want to be there too? You might have to sit down with everyone and lay out some ground rules.
When it comes to visiting the baby after he/she is born, would it be better for everyone to come at once or for people to come one at a time? What about people who will unexpectedly drop in?
You’ll also be getting roughly 10 encyclopedias worth of advice from families, friends, and strangers. Just remember you don’t have to do anything they say, but it’s always helpful to have an open ear. Be sure and rely on your partner and doctor first.