8 Things a couple can do to prepare for having a baby
Having a baby is something that you can prepare for in every way possible, and then still get completely surprised by what actually happens.
Welcoming a baby into the little world this is your couple-life can be a bit of an adjustment for parents to be.
It might help you to take a few of these steps together as a couple to help you prepare for the next big step in your lives.
This is a really good time to remember that you are doing this together, and it is all the work of the team.
1. Talk about parenting
Before you become a parent with your partner you need to be on the same page as each other about a lot of things.
Ideally you should chat about the idea of having kids before you get pregnant together. There is some big stuff that it really helps to agree on, although these aren’t really deal breakers.
2. You should try to chat about your relative parenting positions
Where you would live?
How many children you want?
How much involvement you imagine your extended families having in your lives?
If you think you want to co-sleep!
Whether you and your partner have the same ideas on who will work and who will be the primary carer!
How you feel about immunisation!
If you want to raise your children in a particular religion or following a certain diet such as vegan!
If you want them to go to private or public schools!
If you feel very strongly about anything with regards to how you intend to raise your children, it is respectful and probably quite sensible to bring this up before you agree to get pregnant together.
These sorts of talks can also go down a lot easier if they are done as early as possible, when things are more hypothetical and relaxed, and no one is feeling pressure or the marching on of time. Keep these as light as possible. And being prepared to compromise on some of these will help too.
3. Get a pet
It is funny how many couples will get a pet together in the year before they get pregnant. It is a common storyline that a lot of romances seem to follow; but there is a lot of sense in this.
It is more than just, ‘If we can keep a cat alive, then we can be responsible enough to be parents.’ It is a very good way to gauge if you are ready for children in many aspects of your life, and also can be a good indicator if you are still a few years away from being ready to be a parent.
If you get a pet together, you can learn so much about yourself, about the other person, and about how the two of you work as a team.
4. Some things you can learn about your partner from getting a pet together
If you both share the duties equally, or if one of you seems to be more responsible for toilet training and cleaning up poop or vomit
How often you travel or go away, and seem to need to put your pet into a kennel
How to schedule and prioritise your time to take care of your pet, such as allowing for walks
How you deal with giving up half of your bed to your cat or dog. If you can adjust to just to sleeping in an uncomfortable position rather than waking up or inconveniencing your pet?
5. Prepare yourselves as a team physically
While much of the baby-carrying burden falls to the woman, both partners in a couple can get physically ready for having a baby. This can include getting healthier in terms of eating and exercise, buying boxer shorts for the male partner, giving up drinking, smoking or coffee, and much more.
More and more couples are realising that it doesn’t just have to be the woman who quits certain things, and not only will this make the whole journey a lot easier, it will make you both healthier, which can only be a good thing in the long term.
You should also prepare yourselves for having less sleep, and for sharing as much of the nightly burdens as possible. Even if the mother is going to breastfeed, it isn’t fair that her partner gets to sleep through the night and leave her alone in this. Get used to being awake together, and get used to being disturbed in the night.
6. A woman should not have to go through pregnancy alone
When a woman becomes pregnant she has to lose some control over her body, and she never completely gets it all back.
While ideally your body should be in the best physical health you can get it into to have a baby, being healthy is not the most challenging part of having a baby. The most difficult and challenging part of getting physically pregnant is having to relinquish control of your body.
This is difficult for women and can only be helped if their partner knows this is happening, sympathises and even understands what it feels like. If you shape up and prepare physically together then both partners get a sense of relinquishing control, which will help both of you when a baby joins the clan.
7. Questions to ask yourselves as a couple to get physically ready
How set in your ways are you in terms of the food you eat? Would you be easily prepared to give up things you like, or would you be happy to start eating food that you used to hate because your body seems to need it now?
Are you prepared to lose weight if you need to and start exercising if this helps you get pregnant?
If you like your body fit and healthy, and are usually a bit of a gym junkie, are you prepared to gain weight and reduce the amount that you exercise to let the baby be in charge of your body for a while?
If you like to drink, or sleep, or both, are you prepared to relinquish these pleasures?
Do you drink a lot of coffee to be considered a nice enough person to communicate with other human beings? Are you prepared to reduce this?
When you are pregnant you will have a much lower immune system and will likely catch plenty of bugs like colds and flu. But you cannot take anything stronger than paracetamol; will you be okay with this?
How do you cope with pain? How do you cope with needles?
Do you like being able to jog or sneeze without little bits of wee coming out?
Do you really like how your body looks right now, such as your clear skin, your lack of stretchmarks or cellulite or varicose veins, your breasts where they are, your healthy hair, your stomach somewhat resembling flat? Because all of this may go, and you might miss it when it’s gone.
Much of what we are talking about here are the extremes of pregnancy, but you get the general idea. Everything that you have been used to being able to do to or with your body up until now may need to change. You are giving up control for at least nine months, and for many women, it will be years before they get it back, if they ever get it back.
If none of that seems important to you when you consider what getting pregnant and being a parent can bring to you instead, then physically, you are ready.
8. Remind each other that you are attractive and loved
Younger or newer couples are often driven in the beginning by physical attraction to each other and can place emphasis on looking good. It’s only natural to want to dress up for your partner and be attractive.
When a couple gets pregnant, and then when they have a baby, your own looks can go a little bit out of the window. This can happen because the woman’s body is changing or recovering, because neither of you are getting much sleep, or because the extra time for things like exercise, grooming and ironing sort of disappears.
For women, going through pregnancy doesn’t mean that you should give up being attractive or liking your body, because you can love it after having a baby. Even more so because of the amazing stuff it has done.
Couples need to remember this and tell each other often that they are beautiful, sexy and loved. This can start well before getting pregnant, because with this one, you can never have enough practise.