Planning to Have a Baby?
Planning to have a baby is a very very exciting time for you and your family. It can also be a very stressful time without proper forethought. Physical, emotional and financial planning is key to reducing stress and magnifying the joy of this milestone.
Get a Medical Physical
When planning to have a baby, it is very important to see a doctor. He will want to know the medical history of both parents, including any chronic or hereditary diseases. He will want to know any information about previous pregnancies or miscarriages. Your doctor will provide you with a list of medicines and other substances that should be avoided during pregnancy.
Because many women do not find out they are pregnant for a few weeks, it is very important to treat your body as though you are already pregnant while you're trying to conceive. The first few weeks of pregnancy are when critical development of the fetus occurs. If you do not get the proper nutrition, or are using drugs, alcohol or cigarettes, your baby may not develop properly. Folic acid is very important in developing the fetus' neural tubes that make up the developing nervous system, including the baby's brain and spinal cord.
Prepare Yourself Emotionally
Emotional preparation is often an overlooked step in baby planning. Conflict is guaranteed to arise between parent and child, just as with any relationship. In his book, Parent Effectiveness Training, Dr. Thomas Gordon details why conflict resolution skills are the key to a happy and healthy relationship with your child. He suggests moving away from win-lose negotiation such as authoritative or lenient styles of parenting and using win-win negotiation to solve conflicts with your child.
Make sure you and your partner agree on important parenting issues before you have a baby. Ask what your partner thinks are healthy conflict resolution methods with children and acceptable discipline. Of course there are going to be many surprises in parenting, but having a plan and talking about it with your partner will reduce the risk of reacting emotionally and treating your child in a way you will regret when the moment has passed.
Do not have a baby to fill your emotional needs. If you feel lonely, a dependent baby may seem like a great solution but your responsibility is to meet the baby's needs. Your baby will love you very much but babies need a lot from their parents, especially in the early years. If you go into parenthood with expectations that a baby can fulfill your needs, you will likely feel resentful and your baby will suffer for it.
Financial Planning for a Baby
Before you have a baby, budget out what your expenses will be. Plan for reduced income for time off during pregnancy and childbirth. Plan for medical expenses of delivery, hospital or home-birth, taking into consideration any health insurance benefits you or your partner might be eligible for. If you and your partner have separate health insurance plans, compare the costs of adding your child to each plan or switching the whole family to one plan.
Can you stay home with your baby? If so, how will you supplement your income? If staying home is not an option, budget for childcare. Make sure you check out day cares before you deliver to ensure you find a place you and your partner are both comfortable with. Start a savings account for unexpected expenses, because they will definitely come up. A little financial planning can take a lot of stress out of this exciting time.