What you should think about before starting a family

Having a baby is an important decision that requires a big commitment from both you and your partner. If you’re considering starting a family, here are a few things both of you should think about and discuss before you make this life-altering decision.

1. Is your relationship in a good place?

Having a baby means making a 20-year commitment to be parents together. So if your relationship has been a bit rocky lately, get some help resolving your issues before getting pregnant. A baby might bring the 2 of you closer but might also give you bigger problems to fight about. If you’re not comfortable having an honest discussion about some of the questions on this list with your partner, that might be a sign that you need to work on your relationship before having a baby.

2. Is everything okay on the health front?

Pregnancy is hard on a woman’s body and it takes most women about a year to recover from childbirth. If you’re not in the best of health, consider how the demands of pregnancy may affect you. Do some research about whether there’s a history of difficult pregnancies and births in your family, as well as hereditary illnesses. It might be a good idea for both of you to do a preconception health check to make there’s nothing to be concerned about.

3. How will your finances be affected?

From prenatal medical expenses right up to university fees, babies are a huge financial commitment. Now would be a good time to decide how many children you want to have, how much that would cost, whether your lifestyle needs to change and what you can or can’t afford to give your children. We all want the best for our families but that’s not always practical or realistic. Talk about what both of you are willing to compromise on and make a financial plan to help you deal with the added expense of a child.

 affected finances

4. How will having a baby impact your careers?

What are your maternity and paternity leave options? Who will stay home and look after the baby? Will one of you need to take an extended break from work? Can you afford to take a break at this point in your career? How will your career path and finances be affected and are you prepared to make these trade-offs? Are other options, such as childcare, getting a helper or roping in grandparents, available so you can minimise the time you’re away from work? These are just some of the questions to think about.

5. Are you both ready to take on extra childcare duties?

Even if you have family support and lots of help, your lives as you know it will change if you have a baby. You’ll have less time for yourself and more responsibilities to shoulder. How will you split childcare duties? Do you expect a 50-50 split with your partner? Is he prepared to chip in and help? Make sure your expectations of each other match up and that you’re both happy with how the extra duties are divided between the 2 of you.

6. What about religion?

This is an important discussion if you are of different faiths. But even if you have the same religion, you’ll still need to decide how big a part religion plays in how you bring up your child. Where will you worship and how often? Are prayers only before bedtime or before every meal too? You might be able to work out the specifics as you go along but definitely start making general decisions together now.

7. What’s your stand on discipline?

Everybody has a different idea about how to teach discipline. What do you both agree are acceptable punishments? Like religion, you can work this out as you go but if you intend to spank your child and your partner doesn’t believe in corporal punishment of any sort, you’re going to have problems unless you can come to sort of compromise now.

8. What role will grandparents play?

This is even more crucial if you live with your parents or his. How involved do you want your in-laws to be in raising your children and will your partner support you if you clash with his parents? Does he expect his parents to look after your children while you’re both at work? Are you more comfortable with having your parents in charge? Family politics can be a minefield to navigate, especially if you’ve both been raised in different family environments and have very different ideas on how your own children should be raised.

 grandparents role

9. How do you feel about twins?

If you’ve given serious thought to all these issues and decide you’re ready to start a family, then there’s one last bonus question to consider: what if you have more than one? You may be prepared to have a baby but what if you end up with twins or triplets? It can happen and is even more common with assisted fertility treatments, so make sure you’re just as ready for 2, 3 or more babies.


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