If you and your significant other are thinking about starting a family, congratulations! The entire process can be exciting, scary and overwhelming all at once.
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Many factors play a role in fertility, the ability to carry a child and parenting as a whole. So remember that no matter how prepared you are, there are some issues that just can’t be worked out before the baby. In addition to making sure your health is in check, you and your partner should discuss a few factors that are within your control.
- Discuss your parenting styles and values
Without having been a parent before, you’re probably thinking, “How would I know my parenting style?” And while you should have conversations about your discipline style prior to pregnancy (will you be authoritative or indulgent?), it’s more about discussing values and the ways in which you want to raise your child.
Yes, you should research sleep schedules, discipline tips and breastfeeding basics, but you should also discuss whether or not you want to raise your child in a religious environment and how you’re going to discuss values like honesty, responsibilities, obedience and independence.
And if you and your partner practice different faiths, you’ll want to talk through how that’s going to work as well. Once you determine your religious values and how you want to raise your baby, you’ll also be able to plan for things like schooling, baptisms, naming and circumcision.
- Discuss finances and career
Having a child is expensive: The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that for children born in 2015, it will cost $233,610 from birth through age 17. Before you get pregnant, you and your partner will want to discuss your finances and how it relates to growing your family.
In addition to discussions about how much you’ve saved, how much you want to put away for your child’s college tuition and the basic annual costs of having a child, you’ll also want to discuss childcare. Will one of you stay home with your child for the first few years or will you need to apply for a local daycare? If there are any issues that need to be worked out, you’ll have time to make arrangements or adjustments.
- Discuss some of the hard issues
Most pregnancies go full term without any problems for mom or baby, but in some cases, there are health issues that may come up during pregnancy. And while you can never really prepare yourself for difficult news, you will want to discuss potential outcomes, just in case you have to make some important decisions.
Three percent of babies born in the U.S. will be born with a major malformation. “Sometimes, there is something genetically or structurally wrong with a baby,” says OBGYN Melanie Smith, MD. “There could be severe problems and you’ll have to provide long-term care for this baby as they age because of minor or severe disabilities.”
Maternal issues should also be discussed – miscarriage and late pregnancy loss, preterm delivery, preeclampsia and gestational diabetes are some of the other complications that can come up during pregnancy. Talk to your partner about how you’d handle treatment, how you might cope emotionally or whether or not you’re prepared for these risks. Keep in mind that no matter how much you prep, you won’t really know how to react unless you experience it.
Dr. Smith says there is no need to worry about these issues, but it can be beneficial to have a serious discussion with your partner about what that would mean for both of you and where you stand. “Nothing is right and nothing is wrong, it’s just about what the two of you believe.”