Babies are adorable. The desire to have a child is not at all uncommon whether you’re married and have been for several years or whether you’re single and plan to stay that way. A baby often seems like exactly what is needed to make a person’s life complete. Having a baby is a big step to take though and the commitment and responsibility of bringing a life into the world is not something that should be overlooked. There are five important factors you absolutely need to consider before you take that step. Ask yourself the following five questions before you decided if having a baby, or having another baby, is right for you and your family.
05: Are you prepared for what your body will go through during pregnancy?
Pregnancy is extremely hard on a woman’s body and that’s something you need to consider. If you’re generally in poor health, you need to take that into consideration. If you’re a smoker, you also need to try to quit before you get pregnant. This one’s important. For some women, especially those in high risk pregnancies, quitting will put even more strain on your body. Some doctors recommend not quitting cold turkey but instead cutting back gradually until you’re no longer smoking at all. The problem is that in the meantime, your baby will be getting all the adverse effects of that smoke. Quit before you get pregnant to avoid complications.
In addition, you need to be aware that there are a lot of emotional changes that happen to a woman during pregnancy. What you expect to feel is not always what you’re going to feel. Some women feel unattractive and worry their spouse or partner will stray outside of the relationship. Some women feel paranoid. Some women feel overwhelmed and completely unable to care for the child and fear the baby being born. This is all normal. Just try to prepare yourself in advance as much as possible.
Your body is going to be sore much of the time later in the pregnancy. Your back, your legs, your feet, your breasts… you will be in pain. It’s part of being pregnant. Hemorrhoids and yeast infections are not uncommon ailments during pregnancy. While most expectant mothers learn how to cope, make sure you really understand what you’re in for and are as prepared for the experience as possible.
Morning sickness is vile and really poorly named. Many women experience morning sickness all day long. There is a chemical the body releases during pregnancy that helps relax the muscles making vaginal birth a little easier. These same chemicals, however, don’t pick and choose what muscles they relax. Your esophagus relaxes as well, making it much easier for stomach acid to come up in your throat and even mouth. Disgusting, yes, but also part of pregnancy for some women.
04: Are there diseases that run in your family you should be concerned about?
Hereditary diseases should be of a real concern to any women considering having a child. Take a little time to ask your family about whether or not there is a history of illness in your family that could effect your child or effect you during pregnancy. Difficult pregnancies and difficult births do in fact run in some families. This shouldn’t be enough to keep you from having a child but all of the information you find out should definitely go into the decision making process. Talk to your doctor and discuss any risks you’ve uncovered. Your doctor should be able to give you an idea of what you should actually be concerned about. If you decide that pregnancy is too risky, you can always consider adoption. There are lots of children around the world that are in desperate need of loving homes. If the risks for your pregnancy are too high or you learn that you can’t conceive, adoption is a great option for your family and for the child you will adopt.
03: Are you mentally and emotionally mature enough to raise a child?
This one couldn’t be more important and also couldn’t be more overlooked. Wanting a baby is one thing but being mentally and emotionally ready to become a parent is something else entirely. You need a lot of time to raise a child. Career is important because babies are expensive, but you also need to ensure you have time to bond with your child. Being able to give your child what he or she wantsin terms of material things is great, but it is far more important to be able to give your child what it needs emotionally.
Your life will change after you become a parent. You should be willing to put what your child needs ahead of the things you want, and that takes a certain level of maturity. Take stock of who you are as a person. Imagine not being able to go out for a drink with your friends whenever you feel like it. Imagine having to find and pay a babysitter before a night out for dinner and a movie. Simple things you take for granted now well be sacrificed when you have a baby and you really need to be prepared to make those sacrifices.
Children need stability in their lives. It’s okay to be a single parent, no matter what some people would say. My mother was a single parent and did a fantastic job of raising me even though I didn’t make things easy for her. Stability does not mean being in a committed relationship. It means not having a ton of new people parading through your child’s life. It means not moving from place to place to place. It means not being surrounded by drama at every turn. Being a mother sometimes means putting your dating life on hold and focusing on your child – or at least keeping your new romantic partners away from your child until you’re confident that partner will be sticking around for a while. That definitely takes a huge amount of emotional and mental maturity. If you don’t have it, hold off on starting a family until you do.
02: Are you ready to sacrifice sleep and sanity for the sake of your child?
Nights with little sleep are part of being a mother and that doesn’t change once your kids are out of diapers. While initially it will be a crying infant in the next room that keeps you awake, eventually it will be worry that will rob you of sleep. Worrying about your child is part of being a parent. They can be the best, most well behaved child on the face of the planet and you’re still going to worry. A million things could happen and you’re going to worry about all of those things. This brings us to part two of this question; sanity.
There are going to be times when your child is going to drive your batty. Whether it’s an inconsolable crying infant, a toddler just learning to walk who is getting into everythingor a teenager that is out past curfew, having a child that you are responsible for can be absolutely maddening. The pay off is worth it, of course, when you son or daughter tells you they love you or they accomplish something that makes you proud. It can be something little – a good grade on a test, positive feedback from a teacher or even doing the dishes without being asked (don’t hold your breath for that one) – parenthood is full of rewards.
Before you get pregnant, it’s a good idea to figure out ways to deal with stress when things start feeling like they’re too much. Arrange for a babysitter once a week so you can spend some ‘mommy time’ on your own. Find a hobby you can do after your baby is in bed but that you can also take a break from should your baby wake up. Get hooked on a new television show or start reading more books. Find little ways to relax to keep your sanity and most importantly, never underestimate the beauty of naps.
01: Do I have the money to raise a child?
Raising a child is expensive from pregnancy right through to adulthood. Before your baby is born, you’ll need to have money for medical expenses such as prenatal vitamins and doctor’s visits as well maternity clothes and various items you’ll need right away once the baby is born (a crib, high chair, stroller, car seat, changing table, infant clothes, diapers etc). Once you have the baby, you’ll need diapers, bottles, and money for check-ups with your doctor. You’ll need clothes for your baby as it grows and money for formula should you choose not to breastfeed. You also need to consider a college fund to help secure a bright future for your child.
There are several ways to reduce the costs associated with having a baby. For example, you can choose to use cloth diapers instead of disposable diapers which will see you saving $75-$150 a month. Cloth diapers take a bit more time as you need to wash them, but they can help ease the financial burden of having a child. Once it comes time to start buying bottled baby food, consider making your own instead of buying off-the-shelf. Again, it can be fairly time consuming, but it will save you money. Baby food you make yourself can be frozen and stored – just make sure you label and date each bottle. Making your own baby food also offers the added bonus of allowing you to have control over what goes into your baby food, and in turn, your baby.
Choosing whether or not to bring a baby into the world is one of the most important decisions you’ll ever made. Don’t rush it and don’t let anyone else rush you. This isn’t a decision that should be made lightly. Take your time and most importantly, be honest with yourself. If you aren’t ready then you aren’t ready. To be rash with this one is to do a disservice to yourself, to your baby and to your relationship.