Relationships

|

How do my spouse/partner and I know if we're emotionally ready to have a baby?

You're emotionally ready to have a baby if you're having it for the right reasons, with the right person, at the right time. You need to go into this next phase of your life with realistic expectations of yourself, each other and your relationship.

Changes that come with pregnancy itself can be stressful for your relationship no matter how strong it is. Pregnancy is a major life-altering event with important physical, emotional and financial effects that

you need to deal with in advance.

Once the baby comes, the emotional demands of parenthood on both people will be enormous. You each must be prepared to commit to communicating and connecting to a new baby at all times and be able to accept the constant demands of a baby. It is important to have honest conversations about these demands and expectations before you decide to have a baby.

What should my spouse/partner and I talk about before getting pregnant?

Sit down with your partner and ask yourselves the questions below. There are no right or wrong answers, but answering these questions will help you both decide if it’s the right time to have a baby.

  • Why do you want a baby?
    • Family pressure?
    • You're afraid your "biological clock is ticking"?
    • Peer pressure?
    • You think society demands it of you?
  • Are we ready to deal with the major changes a baby will bring?
    • In our relationship?
    • In our social lives?
    • In our finances?
    • In our living situation?
  • Do we share religious, moral and ethical values?
  • Do we like children?
  • If one of us were left alone, could we cope with raising the child on our own?
  • What kind of social support do we have?
Individually, you also need to think about how strong your relationship is. Be honest with yourselves: Do you love, trust and respect this person? Do you share responsibilities in your life now? You are making a life-altering decision to tie yourself to this individual for the rest of your lives by co-parenting a child.

What kind of stress should we expect?

You must expect and be ready to endure feelings of stress, frustration, incompetence, vulnerability and responsibility. You must be ready to act with total selflessness because that's what a new baby will require.

With a new baby, your freedom to use your time however you choose will be limited, including when and how you want to be intimate, where you go and when, and even how much time and attention you can give to each other. Being aware of these new stressors may help you prepare when you’re in the midst of sudden changes.

To help reduce stress in the relationship, seek counseling to resolve or work on any big issues in your relationship before baby comes. You’ll have enough new challenges without having to manage them on top of existing issues.

What else should we talk about before getting pregnant?

It’s more important than ever that you have a supportive partner for this exciting and stressful time in your life. If your spouse or partner is emotionally or physically abusive toward you, resources are available to help you get the support you need for a safe, healthy pregnancy. You may want to consider calling the National Domestic Violence Hotline toll-free at 1-800-799-7233 to speak privately with an expert who can help you understand your options.

Will we still be able to travel when I get pregnant?

A trip with your partner before your first pregnancy might be the last chance you and your partner have to travel alone together for a long (long!) time. So, if you have any plans for a big trip, it might be a good time to take it now.

Right now, the Zika virus has implications for women and couples who are pregnant or planning to become pregnant. The Zika virus is a mosquito-borne disease that has spread across North and South America over the past year. Zika can also be transmitted through sexual activity. The virus is not easily diagnosed, and it does not have a cure or vaccine. It is linked to the birth defect microcephaly, a condition in which an infant is born with an abnormally small head and brain. The condition is fatal for some infants, while others experience permanent disabilities. Visit CDC.gov/Zika to learn more about the virus and places you should avoid visiting. If you have recently traveled to a country with an outbreak of Zika, talk to your health care provider before trying to conceive.

Beyond specific concerns about Zika, there is no reason you can't travel when you become pregnant; it largely depends on how you feel and how healthy you are. Long-distance travel can be uncomfortable for some pregnant women. Keep in mind:

  • Most airlines won't accept women who are more than 35 weeks pregnant (that’s about 7.5 months).
  • Foreign travel can expose you to illnesses you might not encounter at home, so if you need to get immunizations for a trip, be sure to tell your health care provider that you are trying to get pregnant. If you recently have taken a trip to a foreign country that has known health risks, ask your health care provider if you need to get a checkup and a clean bill of health before trying to conceive.

How can friends and family members help us prepare for pregnancy?

Friends and family members who have been pregnant can help you plan, tell you what you might expect and ease many of your transitions through pregnancy and into parenthood.

If you don't already have a support network of friends, relatives, health care providers, health education professionals, faith leaders or other supporters, now is a good time to create and/or strengthen that network.