Are you asking yourself if you are ready to have a baby? Firstly, before we get into the nitty-gritty of this blog, I want to highlight that the term ‘ready’ isn’t a one size fits all approach. For some being ready could be having financial security. For others, it could be being in a loving relationship for several years. Ready means different things to everyone, and there is no right or wrong answer to this question.
But if you are asking this question, it’s likely you’ve already decided that you want to be a parent. But when is the best time? Is it now? It’s a hard decision to make if you overthink it; there are the financial implications to consider, the impact on your career and working out if you’ve achieved everything you’ve set out to before embarking on a TTC journey. Not to mention that we are all working against our ever-ticking body clock!
In this blog, we will walk you through some questions to ask yourself before starting a family to help you decide if you are really ready for the adventure of parenthood!
1. Do you have the security you need to start a family?
We are not saying that you need to be a homeowner with a 5-bedroom house in the best neighbourhood or even a partner to be ready to have a baby. However, having a child is expensive. They need nappies, clothes, blankets, a buggy, and somewhere to sleep, amongst other items. So it’s an essential consideration before having a baby when possible. For example, having a steady income means you can support and provide for any baby you bring into this world. In addition, having a secure home with enough space will give you the comfort to raise a baby confidently and happily.
2. Are you emotionally ready?
Bringing a child into the world requires emotional stability and readiness. It’s true that once you have a child, what they need will always come first above your own needs. Ask yourself if you feel emotionally prepared to handle the highs and lows of parenthood. The highs are incredible, but the lows can be pretty hard going. Above all else, ask yourself if you can provide your child with a loving, nurturing home to determine if you are emotionally ready.
3. Do I have the support around me to raise a child?
Single or co-parent, a child will need non-stop care, love and attention. It’s a full-time unpaid job that is wonderful and exhausting! However, the reality is that having an involved partner or supportive friends and family around you can make a world of difference. Most mums or primary carers need some form of help when raising a baby, whether it’s sharing the parenting load, running errands, emotional support and financial support to make sure the baby has everything they need.
Parenting as a duo or with a strong support network is often easier than parenting alone. Still, the added dynamic of a small person who needs so much attention and steals your sleep can put pressure on even the strongest relationships. Therefore, it’s important to be realistic and have honest discussions about your expectations of day-to-day life as a parent and how you will logistically manage it.
4. Can I afford to take the maternity leave I want?
Here in the UK, new parents can take up to 12 months or 52 weeks of maternity leave. The first six weeks at 90% of your average weekly earnings and then 33 weeks at the lower £172.48 per week or 90% of your average weekly earnings. If you are trying to do your maths, then yes, that means if your employer doesn’t offer any enhanced maternity leave benefits, some of your maternity leave entitlement will be unpaid. So you’ll need to calculate precisely how long you can afford to take off work before returning to the office. Be sure to read your company’s maternity policy as soon as possible to understand what they offer and what you are entitled to.
Don’t forget that when you return to work, you’ll need to line up some childcare. Whether it’s a nursery, a childminder or grandparent care, there’s likely to be an additional cost (a full-time nursery place in England costs the average parent a staggering £238 p/w) unless you and your partner can split the childcare and work schedules between you.
5. Are you ready to cut back on caffeine and alcohol?
Now, you don’t need to go cold turkey pre-pregnancy, but cutting down on the coffee and alcohol before trying to conceive has its benefits, and it will prepare you better for when you do eventually fall pregnant. If you just enjoy sharing a bottle of wine with your bestie or partner on a Thursday or Friday night, you don’t need to change anything, but if you have a tipple most days, both partners should cut down as excessive alcohol use can interfere with fertility.
Likewise, if you find yourself constantly making yourself a Nespresso or grabbing a coffee at work, it might be time to consider cutting down before getting pregnant. Why? Well, firstly, high caffeine intake has been linked to miscarriage in early pregnancy, and secondly, cutting down now will help you avoid withdrawal symptoms when you do need to cut right down after finding out you are expecting.
I’m ready to have a baby; what now?
If you’ve considered everything that is involved with having a baby and feel secure, emotionally ready and have the support you need around you, that’s fabulous! Start by taking a prenatal vitamin to support your TTC journey, ditch the birth control and start the baby dance! If you are single, book an appointment with your GP to discuss your options for starting a family. Many people TTC track ovulation to maximise their chances of getting pregnant and make small lifestyle changes to improve their fertility, such as gentle exercise and cutting back on processed foods. Don’t forget to stock up on your Hoopsy pregnancy tests when starting your TTC journey, and don’t forget to check out our blogs which cover a range of hints and tips to support your journey!