When mom's biological clock starts ticking, it's hard not to obsess over having a sweet little baby to care for and love. This urge hits many women at some point in life, and it's normal to want to have children. However, it's a life changing choice that shouldn't be made hastily, no matter how strong mom's desire is for a little one.
Before becoming pregnant, it's important for mom to take stock of her life and ask some hard questions. Assessing motives and looking logically at finances and housing are important steps that may be the first on the path to motherhood.
Mom's romantic relationship should be evaluated, as should her family support system and job situation. Having a child affects every area of life, and if mom isn't ready yet, she needs to put the brakes on the baby plans. She also needs to make sure her partner is on board with any baby plans since the arrival of a child affects both parents.
The following questions are important to ask before the baby making starts. The answers to the questions will let Mom know if she is truly ready for a baby or if there are things in her life she needs to work on before welcoming a child.
20 Do I Have Help?
There are women who choose to be single moms, and that is perfectly fine. What is important is that mom has help, whether that means a partner, close friends, or family members who can lend a hand. While raising a child is a gift, it's also a lot of work.
No woman should go into motherhood without knowing who she can call when she is sleep deprived, sick, or just stressed out to the max. No matter how much a mother loves her child, she will need other adults to interact with who can lend a hand when she needs a break.
19 Will I Work?
Some countries make it easy for mom to return to work by offering day care at a discounted price or having hours that are family friendly so mom doesn't spend all her time away from the baby. Other countries aren't that accommodating. Child care costs can cost more than a mortgage, and some jobs make no allowances for working parents.
Whether or not mom goes back to work is a personal choice, and for some women it's not a choice. They have to work to support the family. However, if mom has a choice, she needs to sit down with her partner and decide if they will be a two income household or a one income household. Also, who will return to work? Dad can stay home with the baby, and that is more common now than in years past.
18 Is My Partner Ready?
It's not a good idea to intentionally get pregnant if mom knows her partner isn't ready. Raising a child is a lifetime commitment full of twists and turns, and both partners need to be ready and willing to put in the work. If mom's partner isn't ready, then she needs to put the brakes on the baby plan for now.
Some couples split because one wants a baby and the other does not, and this is such a big life decision that the relationship often can't be saved if both partners don't feel the same. It's better to know early on how your partner feels about children.
17 How Strong is My Relationship?
Having a child can bring a couple closer together. It can also cause them to drift apart as sleep deprivation, stress, and the constant demands of parenting take over each day. It's important for mom to assess the health of her relationship before adding a child to it.
Babies can't save relationships, and having a child to try to fix a broken partnership is a bad idea. Mom's relationship with her partner needs to be in a good place, with both of them able to communicate effectively and compromise. Problems need to be dealt with before the first child makes an entrance.
16 How Will My Partner and I Split Responsibilities?
Though we've come a long way in the direction towards equality for the sexes, there is still the belief among many that parenting and household chores are a mother's job. Dads are often fondly referred to as babysitters instead of parents, and they are offered endless praise for doing things mom does without being noticed every day.
It's important for mom to establish with her partner how parenting and life responsibilities will be split when a baby comes along so there are no misunderstandings. Resentment festers when mom is left to do most of the work and dad is considered a hero for showing up at all. Make sure your partner knows this before agreeing to have a baby with him.
15 Do I Have the Money?
Raising kids is not cheap. Some people make it more extravagantly expensive than necessary, but even the parent who does what she can to get deals will find it's not cheap to house, clothe, and educate another person.
Mom needs to assess her financial wellness before having a baby. Besides figuring out if she can afford diapers, wipes, and formula, she needs to know what is covered regarding birth. Will her insurance pay for the childbirth? How much comes out of pocket from her? It's also important to make sure she can cover child care expenses if they will be needed. It all adds up quickly.
14 How Do We Feel About Treatments?
Not every mom gets pregnant easily after attempting to get pregnant for a few months. There are many men and women who face fertility issues that can bring family expansion to a halt. It's important that mom and her partner know what they will do if fertility problems strike either one of them.
Some couples want to push forward with all the medical options to have a child, while others choose to adopt or to forego becoming parents. What's important is that mom and her partner have decided beforehand what they are comfortable with since it's hard to have these discussions for the first time after receiving bad news about fertility.
13 Where Will I Live?
Does mom want to live closer to family or does she want to distance herself from extended relatives? What about in-laws? Does she want to be in an apartment or commit to a house? Does she want to move closer to people she knows will offer her help?
All of these questions need to be addressed before mom gets pregnant because where she lives can make parenting easier or more difficult. Some women want to be close to their own mothers, while others can’t stand the thought of trying to raise a child near their own parents. Decide and try to get settled before getting pregnant.
12 What Kind of Birth Do I Want?
Understand that no matter what kind of birth mom wants, it’s not a guarantee that she will have it. Still, it’s important to know a few things about childbirth before getting pregnant since having the baby is an inevitable part of the pregnancy.
Natural births at hospitals or birthing centers are possible, as are medicated births at the hospital. Some women opt to have home births assisted by a midwife, but mom needs to know if that is even possible for her due to her health risks. Do the research early, but be prepared to shift if things change once mom gets pregnant.
11 What Kind of Food Will I Want the Baby to Eat?
For the first six months, the baby will probably live only on breastmilk, formula, or a combination of the two. However, mom does need to think about how she wants to feed the baby when the time comes to introduce food. Will she make her own baby food? Will she require all food to be organic?
It's also important to decide if she is going to put her baby on a restricted or special diet. Some parents raise their children vegan or gluten-free due to food allergies or personal preferences. It's good to have an idea going in of what foods mom wants to pass on to her little one.
10 How Will I Handle It If Something Is Wrong?
Getting pregnant is the first step. Unfortunately, getting pregnant does not ensure a pregnancy without complications or a child without health problems. Mom and her partner need to know what they will do if they find out the baby has birth defects, either mild or major. Will it make a difference in whether or not mom carries the pregnancy to term?
This is not an easy conversation to have, and mom hopefully won’t ever have to deal with this. However, it’s important not to ignore the possibility. It’s easier to know what the plan is in case unexpected news arrives.
9 Who Will the Godparents Be?
Godparents are supposed to assist with a child's spiritual upbringing, but kids need godparents even if mom and dad aren't religious or spiritual. Godparents are the people a child will be raised by if something happens to mom and dad. They are the trusted adults who will take the child in and ensure he or she is okay.
Godparents are sometimes family members and sometimes friends. Mom and dad need to have an idea of who will be the godparents and then make sure the people they choose want that responsibility. If everything goes well, the godparents will simply get to spoil the little one, but if something goes wrong, mom and dad need to know they have somewhere for their child to go to be raised and loved.
8 What Are My Values?
Values are sometimes connected to a person's religion or faith. Sometimes they are just a set of standards a person lives by based on that individual's view of right and wrong. Whatever mom's values are, she will want to have them clearly defined before becoming a parent.
Parents pass their values to their children, or at least they try to. It's good know and clearly understand what motivates you and what you want to pass on to your child, even before you meet the baby. This will help guide parenting decisions and make it simpler to know what to do when complicated situations arise.
7 How Will I Handle Childcare?
In some parts of the world daycare and pre-K programs are offered to parents for free or at highly discounted prices. In other parts of the world, this is not the case. If mom is going to need child care when here little one is born, she needs to figure out how she's going to handle that.
Will she put the baby in daycare, and can she afford it? Will she have someone come to her home to watch the baby? Does she have family members who are willing to help? Because child care expenses can be extremely high, it's important to know what the plan is before a baby comes along.
6 How Will I Discipline?
It may seem like the task of disciplining a child is way down the road, but it's smart to think about how mom wants to handle discipline. It's pretty much accepted that spanking is a bad idea due to research studies that have been conducted. Will mom put her child in time out, try gentle discipline, or resort to whatever strategy her own parents used?
There are tons of books on this topic, and most parents figure out what they are comfortable with as time passes. However, it's worth having an idea as to what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to disciplining a child, because all children will try mom's nerves at one point or another.
5 Will I Breastfeed?
Breastfeeding has many benefits for both mom and the baby, and it can be a money saver since cash will not need to be spent on formula. However, it's not for every mom. Mom needs to think about the commitment beforehand to decide if she wants to breastfeed or not.
Even if mom decides she does want to breastfeed, things don't always work out as planned. Still, it's good to have an idea of whether or not the desire to nurse is present and if it's possible with mom's job or life situation. Mom can always change her mind, but it's good to at least know how she feels on the topic before becoming pregnant.
4 How's My Health?
Mom and her partner need to assess their health before trying to get pregnant. Neither should be drinking or smoking, and being on a healthy diet and folic acid are smart moves for mom.
Mom also needs to have a full physical to see if there are any issues she needs to deal with prior to becoming pregnant. Is her thyroid within range? How is her blood sugar and blood pressure? Is she dealing with any symptoms that can’t be explained? Have it all checked out before getting pregnant. It will likely make the pregnancy easier if mom is as healthy as she can be going into the experience.
3 Why Do I Want a Child?
The answer to this question may not be as simple as it appears. There are plenty of women who want to have children because they want to be mothers. However, sometimes women choose to get pregnant for the wrong reasons without fully assessing their motives.
Having a baby to try to save a relationship or keep a partner around isn’t wise. Getting pregnant just because mom is worried about her biological clock isn’t always the answer. It’s not a good idea to have a baby just because everyone else in mom’s inner circle is having a baby. Mom needs to want this for herself and her child.
2 How Will Extended Family Be Involved?
Some women have their mothers come stay with them for weeks or months after the baby is born. Even mother-in-laws may stay to help out for days or weeks at a time. Other women cannot imagine having people in their personal spaces while they adjust to motherhood. It’s important for mom to figure out what she wants early on so she can communicate that to the family way before the baby arrives.
Families are complicated, and while some women feel like the presence of extended family is helpful, others feel like it adds stress to an already challenging situation. It’s important for mom to look at her relationships with family members and decide how much involvement she wants.
1 Am I Ready for My Life to Change Permanently?
Life is never the same after having a child. While most women think they understand this before getting pregnant, they need to think about it for an extended period of time to make sure they fully comprehend the life changes ahead as much as possible. There's no way to truly grasp how life altering having a child is before taking the leap, but it's worth taking a long hard look at what will change before going for it.
Most of the changes are for the better, but mom will likely mourn certain aspects of her pre-child life that will never return. This is normal, but having a child is too big of a decision for mom not to put a lot of thought into it first.