As women we spend our whole lives trying not to get pregnant, I know I spent most of my adult life doing so: thinking that one slip up was bound to put me with child. It’s only when you decide you want a baby you realise there are only certain times in the month you can get pregnant! But, how do you decide to have a baby and when is the right time?
HOW DO YOU MAKE THE BIG DECISION
I know I didn’t rush into having a baby, I wanted to go on one last big holiday, a festival, to Ibiza and do all the things that I thought would stop when I had a baby. Sneak preview; life goes on after baby. So, before we decided to have a baby we went travelling around the world, I worked hard to get to a senior point in my career, we waited until we were financially in a better place, we did all the things you try and get in before baby.
Once we’d done all this, we had to put our grown up pants on and make the decision to try for a baby. But, eek! How do you make that big decision?
Firstly, finances are a good (boring) way to start, yes babies can be expensive but what is hard is dropping from your full wage down to £130 ish a week, that is a shock to the system and you’ll still want to go out, go for coffee, lunches and baby groups which all cost. Before you get pregnant it’s worth thinking about this and squirrelling away what you can, start doing a budget and stick to it. I promise it’s so worth doing to not get yourself in future debt and, believe me, I’m really not good with money so it does take some discipline. Also worth thinking about is that you will get screwed with childcare costs, so have a think in advance about what you’ll likely do upon returning to work, and if you have other support available.
Take a look at this now rather than waiting until you are pregnant. I have known friends delay getting pregnant to get a different job with a better maternity policy! Review what company pay you get and for how long, review when statutory pay kicks in and see if you have to take any of it unpaid. This will help you work out the budget you need so that you can live to a similar standard when on maternity leave. Be aware of how much holiday you have and you will accrue this in most cases and also get your bank holidays back. These can be added on before your leave starts or at the end; at the end is better as you get paid as you return to work rather than having to work a month until you get paid.
It is obviously important to live a healthy lifestyle anyway, but if you are thinking of having a baby now is the time to get yourself in tip top shape. Make sure you are eating your five a day and getting plenty of fresh air and exercise. Cut down on the drinking and caffeine too. The better shape you are in prior to pregnancy will only serve you well throughout if you keep yourself fit and healthy. Of course, growing and pushing out a baby is a marathon so a fit body will help you carry all that extra weight, keep your arms shapely when your tummy is huge (small victories) and prepare you for labour.
RELATIONSHIP CHECK IN
Now, I assume if you are thinking of having a baby that things are great with your partner. Babies do not fix problems. You’re going to have a tiny baby who cries and is demanding, that is going to put pressure on any relationship and any problems will be magnified. Time to tackle those demons, if there are any, and if there aren’t any it’s important to talk about what kind of parents you want to be and what kind of life you want for your child to make sure you agree and can be a team.
How equal are the chores shared in your house? Do you both do your fair share? Babies create lots of mess that needs tidying up: toys, clothes, blankets, washing, nappies, so if you end up doing most of the house jobs you might want to equalise things a little before you decide to have a baby. Also worth a think if you partner is going to be happy getting up in the night to feed and change nappies!
Oh how you don’t realise how much free time you have before you have a baby. I seriously cannot believe what I did with all that time! But, the saying is true in that ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’. Let me tell you girls, you will lose a lot of me time. But, the me time you do get after baby is so much more rewarding and valuable. If you’re not ok with giving up a lot of time, it’s probably not the right time to have a baby.
Oh I know you know how to get pregnant, but be prepared for it to take longer than you think. With our first it took 6 months, our second it took 10 months. Sadly, once you make the decision to have a baby you think it will happen straight away. For some lucky people it does, but don’t get downhearted if it doesn’t. If you’ve been on the pill for a long time, like I was, that thing plays havoc with your body so it will likely take a few months to get out of your system.
IS THERE EVER A PERFECT TIME?
In the end we probably weren’t as financially stable as we’d hoped and we’d certainly not achieved our life goals before we decided to get pregnant. But, we were in good enough shape all round, agreed on the life we wanted to create and the balance we would achieve as parents. We thought it was as good as time as any, and anyone will tell you that you are never fully ready for the baby bomb that will hit you. I kept fit and healthy, crammed as much fun stuff in as I could while we were ‘not being careful’, and tried not to think about it all the time (unsuccessfully) and after six months of ‘not being careful’ we found out I was pregnant the day after a huge new years eve party.
So if this article has made you think, ‘Yep! I’m ready!’ go ahead and procreate and please share how you decided to take the big leap into parenthood with me.