Becoming a parent is one of the most rewarding stages in anyone’s life and can bring joy and a sense of fulfilment like no other. But it is not always a straightforward journey to set out on. So, before taking that first step towards parenthood, it’s important to ensure that you are ready. Here are the five core things to consider before starting a family.
Are you ready for the lifestyle change?
Having a child will significantly change your lifestyle so you need to be sure you are ready as, while it can be wonderful, raising a child is not always easy. You also need to factor in the impact having a little one will have on your work and social life and be sure that you – and your partner if there’s two of you – can not only accommodate but prioritise the needs of a new baby. And if so, you also need to be prepared for the dynamics of your relationship to also change as two become three…or more.
Can you afford it
It’s important to be realistic about the financial implications of having a family, including the unexpected ‘curveballs’ you may experience along the way as well as the possibility that you may need to move to a bigger or more family-appropriate home. And, at least during the early years, having a child will mean one or both of you will need to take maternity or paternity leave as well as engage childcare, with the drop in income or additional expense this may present.
How’s your health?
When planning to get pregnant, you should do all you can to prepare and that includes your physical health. Anyone looking to get pregnant naturally or are embarking on IVF or ICSI treatment for male infertility needs to give their body the very best chance to succeed. This includes following a healthy balanced diet with moderate exercise, stopping smoking and drinking, and taking supplements if necessary. You should also discuss any existing health issues, potential hereditary conditions or general health concerns with your GP or fertility clinician.
Dealing with pregnancy challenges
You can’t always expect that having a child will be instant or easy and you may find yourself facing fertility challenges on your journey to getting pregnant. And this means you need to be prepared to face and deal with these unexpected problems along the way. Around 10% of couples may experience difficulty in falling pregnant naturally within the first two years of trying, and this figure can be higher, depending on age. But that doesn’t mean you can’t become a parent, as there are many exceptional fertility treatments available for both men and women, as well as other options such as adoption. So, if you do find yourself struggling to conceive, do seek help – your GP or fertility clinic can be an excellent first step towards starting a family.
The importance of a support network
No matter how ready you are to start a family, don’t underestimate the importance of having a supportive network around you, for advice and encouragement as well as helping to take some of the strain when needed. And it doesn’t just need to be family and friends, as there’s a whole digital world of new parent support forums as well as local parenting groups who know the highs, lows and everything in-between you are experiencing as a new mum or dad. And this network will prove its weight in gold as you learn to navigate and love the world of first-time parenting!