Like me, you may be wondering when the right time is to have a baby, well the real answer is, there is never a right time! As much as you plan when you would like to have your baby “by the time I’m 30!” nothing really prepares you for the task ahead.
I always said that I would like to have a baby by the time I was 30 and that I did not want to be one of these ‘older’ mothers, however I did not physically or emotionally feel ready to even begin trying for a baby until I was in my 30s, fell pregnant when I was 34 and had my daughter when I was 35. I often feel now that I should not have left it so long, however I would not have been in such a positive position that I feel I was in at the time. I followed my career earning good money, married my long term partner, bought a house and travelled the world. I have enjoyed the perks of young living, eating out and partying with friends, which I am happy to leave behind as it’s now family time. I feel that I have experienced the world around me enough to pass this valuable knowledge onto my daughter and I definitely have far more patience now than when I was younger, even when I was 30! I also felt that I could financially afford to have to have a child: baby girl clothes are just all too tempting!
However I am amongst the last of my friends to step into this world of parenthood, whilst they are stepping out of it with their eldest turning 16! In their favour, they are now in a position to re-live their life and they are young enough to do so, I on the other hand will not have that privilege at least for another 16 years to come! Some have this maternal instinct from a young age which I have never really experienced and has only become reality since having my daughter.
Here come the ‘are you ready questions’:
- Are you ready for lack of sleep? Not just now but for the rest of your life. Whilst a baby may wake for feeding and changing in the night, when your child is in their teens and hasn’t returned home on time you will be equally as sleepless!
- Are you ready to care for someone more than you care for yourself, are you both equally committed to becoming parents? How will it change you and your relationships with others? How you can prepare yourselves for the highs and lows of parenthood?
- Are you ready to step out of the house in a daze, no make up, hair not washed?
- Are you ready for frantic nights where partying is replaced by a huge washing and ironing pile, and Saturday nights are spent just trying to get your head down for a few minutes while the baby sleeps
- Are you ready for your house to be turned upside down with nappies, toys and baby items? Effective hoovering and cleaning are a thing of the past!
- Are you ready to see your bank balance diminish? Not on yourself but baby stuff! It’s addictive and highly expensive!
- Are you ready to give up working, whether temporarily or permanently (it’s hard to leave that gorgeous bundle for any amount of time)? Have you given consideration to child care arrangements? What will you do if you fancy going out without your baby?
- Are you ready to give up those holidays to Ibiza and settle for a Center Parcs?
- Are you ready for your body to change in many different ways?
- Are you ready to accept help and advice from family and friends because have been there and done it?
The list could go on and on and highlights some things to think about before even trying to conceive. This is not a list to put you off but being a parent should not be on a ‘whim’ you ideally should be ready to give your entire heart to another being.
Are you ready? Then here are some tips to help get your body and life organised and prepared. You might also want to check out our tips for getting pregnant.
- Stopping contraception: if you are using condoms then it goes without saying you will not be needing these any more. However if you have been taking the pill or injections then it could take a while for these to come out of your system. Discussing this with your GP will help you get an idea of a time length.
- Folic acid: ideally you should be taking folic acid if you are trying to conceive. Folic acid (also known as vitamin B9) is very important for the development of a healthy foetus, as it can significantly reduce the risk of neural tube defects (NTDs), such as spina bifida. It is recommended that you continue to take this up to 12 weeks after conception but if you continue to take it, it will not harm your baby.
- Balanced diet: it is important that you have a varied healthy and balanced diet if you are trying to conceive and throughout your pregnancy. 5 portions of fruit and vegetables daily will give you and your baby the best starting point. Multivitamins are usually recommended by your midwife which contain all the nutrients vital to the healthy and normal growth of your baby.
- Smoking and drinking: it goes without saying that these can be harmful to you let alone your baby. Ideally you should stop altogether when trying to conceive and throughout your pregnancy, or at the very least cut down. There is research to suggest that these can contribute to defects or even miscarriage and therefore it is important to give your baby the best start in life. It will also help to improve your health and wellbeing.
- Affordability: having a baby can be expensive. It is important to try and have some security for your family. If you can afford to put some money away then do so. Also think about life insurance and a will to offer your baby security should anything happen to you or your partner in the future. Furniture, bedding, pram, clothes, nappies etc are not cheap, carry out your research and make sure you can afford these things. There is plenty of advice on the Internet to help you plan with this. Maybe members of your family or friends have babies and it might be an idea to suggest sharing items between you all to soften the financial burden. The most important provision for your baby are not the material items but the love and affection you provide. Check out our article on spending your money wisely in pregnancy.