Things to Consider before Having a Baby

If you are thinking about expanding your family, there are many things to consider. An expectant mother’s physical health and well-being is obviously of utmost importance, but there are emotional and financial aspects to think about as well. 

Medical Aspects of Planning a Pregnancy

  • A woman should prepare her body for pregnancy by living a balanced lifestyle that includes good nutrition and exercise. 
  • Do all things in moderation.
  • If you are a smoker, stop smoking.
  • Take Calcium, Vitamin D and Folic Acid supplements.
  • Consider any pre-existing medical conditions, such as obesity, hypertension, diabetes, thyroid disease, depression, inflammatory bowel disease and cardiac disease.  Speak with your physician to ensure he or she is are aware of your pregnancy plans, especially when you are using certain medications.  It will be important to stabilize and/or eliminate these conditions prior to pregnancy.
  • If you are using medications, be sure to discuss this with your prescribing provider or obstetrician.  It is vital to be on the fewest medications possible to control a chronic illness prior to pregnancy.
  • Think about your family history and make your provider aware of any congenital anomalies or inherited diseases, such as cardiac, neurological or renal conditions, and musculoskeletal and blood disorders.

Financial Aspects to Planning for Children

  • The major expenditures to consider when having a child include housing, clothing, food, healthcare, transportation, childcare, education and other miscellaneous expenses.
  • Visit the U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion (USDACNPP) webpage Expenditures on Children by Families to find out the current cost of raising children from birth through age 17 for major budgetary components.
  • Keep in mind that the total expenses per year increase as the child gets older.
  • Some expenses not considered in the total costs calculated by the USDACNPP include prenatal health care, college education, life insurance structured to benefit the child, government expenditures on the child and expenses paid by non-parenting family members.

Emotional Aspects to Having Children

It’s a good idea to weigh out the pros and cons before you get pregnant.

Pros of Having Children

  • Excitement
  • Satisfaction
  • Joy/fun
  • Self-esteem
  • Meeting a long-term goal
  • Challenge
  • Love and growing through giving

Cons of Having Children

  • Reduction/loss in freedom
  • Sleep
  • Mobility
  • Privacy
  • Money
  • Career opportunities
  • Camaraderie
  • Adulthood
  • Fun
  • Self-esteem
  • Personal time
  • Relationships
  • Peace of mind

It's also a good idea to think of your reasons for wanting to get pregnant.

Good Reasons to Have Children

  • A desire to give and nurture another
  • True enjoyment for children
  • A feeling that caring for a child will be more fulfilling than at least some of what you are currently doing in your life
  • Feeling like you have enough to share (love, energy, emotional resources)

Not-so-Good Reasons to Have Children

  • Keeping the interest of your partner
  • Meeting the expectations of others
  • To be cared for in your old age
  • Because that is what you’ve always thought you are supposed to do
  • Toprove something
  • To have someone love you

Other emotional aspects of having children include the following:

  • Look at your social support system and decide if it is in-line with you having a child, i.e., job/career, economic issues, child care options, your activities and what you are willing to give up, extended family support.
  • Look at your relationships – are they conducive to you having a child?  Do you have a strong, healthy marriage/relationship with your partner?  Or, if you will be a single parent, do you have family support and/or people you can trust and lean on for support?
  • Look at yourself – do you feel ready to give up your time and personal freedom to raise a child?  Do you enjoy children of all ages, at least sometimes?  Can you be emotionally present and available to another?
  • Ask yourself the tough questions…how would you respond to a child who has a disability, a child who does not look like you, a child of either gender, or multiples?  No one knows for sure, but these are things you should at least think about.
  • And remember: There is no perfect time. There are no perfect children. There are no perfect parents. And that is okay.

Resources:

  • Michael Anthony, MD, FACOG, Women’s Health Alliance, OB/GYN
  • Patty Carter, Financial Advisor, Edward Jones
  • U.S. Department of Agriculture Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion – www.cnpp.usda.gov
  • I'm Okay, You're a Brat!: Setting the Priorities Straight and Freeing You From the Guilt and Mad Myths of Parenthood, by Susan Jeffers, PhD