Women often decide to avoid pregnancy until they and their partners are ready. But how do they plan a pregnancy? How do you know when you're ready?
- Wait until you and your partner's jobs are steady. While we can't predict the future of company layoffs, you and your partner should have a pretty good sense of the stability of your jobs. Ideally you two will have been at your jobs for enough time to build up vacation and sick time. Contact your human resources department to discuss maternity and paternity leaves, health care options, disability and leaves of absences.
- Have a healthy relationship with your partner. You and your partner should be in a stable, monogamous, healthy relationship. While all relationships take a little work, pregnancy and the first few months of your baby's life may be the hardest time for your relationship. If needed, go to counseling to discuss adding a baby to your life.
- Try to minimize your financial obligations. Parenthood can be expensive with all of the new investments like the crib, diapers, college fund, clothing and countless other things. If you are heavily in debt due to college loans or credit cards, you may find it easier to focus on paying down your debt if you don't have a new baby to support.
- Start thinking about daycare. While you don't have to decide about daycare options until your baby is born, you may want to start thinking about who is going to stay with the baby. Are you going to keep working after the baby is born? If so, who is going to babysit? Are you going to hire a nanny, ask a family member or friend, or find a daycare? How much will daycare cost -- is it within your budget?
- When was your last pregnancy? If you miscarried recently, your care provider may suggest you wait three to six months before conceiving again. If you delivered a baby, you should wait at least a year before trying to get pregnant again, to give your body a chance to recover.
- Consider changing your diet. You should start making adjustments to your diet to prepare for pregnancy. You should cut back on caffeine and eliminate any alcohol, smoking or other recreational substances. If you are on medication or have a medical condition, you should discuss pregnancy with your care provider. You should also cut back on sweets, junk food and fast food, instead adding fruits and vegetables to your diet. In addition, you may want to add a folic acid supplement to decrease the odds of conceiving a child with a neural tube defect.
- If you wish to have more than one child, consider how you will space them in years. Children that are less than two or three years old will likely react to the new baby with jealousy, temper tantrums and other attention-getting outbursts because they cannot convey their feelings to their parents. This behavior is generally only temporary and can be soothed by the parents. You should also consider how long you wish to be a 'mother.' If you want to be a mother for much of your life, consider spacing your children far apart. If on the other hand, you want to travel and have a career after your children have gotten older, you may want to space your children closer together.