Author Topic: Planning a child  (Read 6525 times)

Anatidae V

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Planning a child
« on: February 02, 2015, 04:04:13 AM »
My partner and I are planning on trying for a baby, and we have decided that we want to be in a good position to do so in 9 - 12 months time. We might not start trying then, but we want to be ready to do so in case we are. What we want to know is, what can we do to get ourselves ready? We would like to know financial, mental health and physical health things that we could do to prepare. Are there good books or blogs to read, specific questions for our GPs and other healthcare providers we should be asking, different ways we could set up our incomes that people have found worked?

We both have had some mental and physical health issues that are being managed quite well at the moment (can elaborate if need be). We are in Australia, so I know we may have quite good public health options.

I'm not sure if this should be in the Ask A Mustachian or the Mini Mustache section, but moderators can move if need be.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #1 on: February 02, 2015, 05:14:01 AM »
Be prepared to have the non-rational part of you that my wife and I call "monkey-self" decide that you need to live off of one income rather than send the baby to childcare. Doesn't always happen, but I haven't seen great results when people do make basic parenting decisions they don't feel good about. Having a baby is the most emotional experience you'll ever have, and I don't believe anybody knows how they will feel beforehand.

Neustache

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #2 on: February 02, 2015, 06:14:48 AM »
Prepare for the worst...expect the best. 

Absolutely be able to live off of one income.  I ended up on bed rest for the last 12 weeks of my pregnancy, which was fine, because I had intended to be off the week after I had a partial placental abruption.

My sister ended up having HELPP and then an early C-section at 28 weeks to save her life.  Her little guy was in the NICU for months.

A friend of mine has had 3 really good pregnancies.  Then bam, her 4th, and she has been on bed rest due to severe back pain the ENTIRE pregnancy. 

I don't say this to scare you.  We are all very, very rare (and in my and my sister's case, probably a genetic issue is to blame).  But, I say this to say....PREPARE to be unable to work. 

I was supposed to quit and go part-time from home, but even that was too much.  I'd try to work, and have contractions. 


We were totally fine though, as we had prepared to live on one income anyways. 

Again, don't be scared by our stories (all babies were absolutely fine, and I went on to have a relatively normal pregnancy with my 2nd).

But heed my warning and prepare for it.  If you don't need the time off or the extra money, then great!


Mrs. B

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #3 on: February 02, 2015, 07:28:40 AM »
We have a 4 week old and I am amazed by the fact that some mothers return to work at 6-8 weeks. I am considerably impressed by these women as I could not fathom having it together enough to re-enter the real world of wearing real clothes not covered in spit up every day. Our baby is a great nighttime sleeper, but by 7am I've still only had about 4 hours of sleep due to the two nighttime feedings required at this age. My sanity is preserved only by being able to sleep during the day and my incredibly supportive husband on evenings and weekends. Plan on having AMPLE time off for the sake of all of you. Good luck!

mrsggrowsveg

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #4 on: February 02, 2015, 10:36:29 AM »
Other people have talked about financial aspects, but this is a health thing.  Start taking prenatals and/or Folate right away.  Folate has been shown to prevent birth defects and is much easier for the body to absorb than Folic Acid.

Yankuba

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2015, 06:06:23 PM »
Google the prescriptions you both are taking along with the word fertility. There are a lot of medicines that reduce both male and female fertility and the doctors aren't always up to speed on it.

mlipps

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2015, 06:08:23 PM »
I haven't had a baby yet, but I am a crazy planner, so I got the book "The Impatient Woman's Guide to Getting Pregnant" a while back, and found it to be SUPER informative & helpful.

MsPeacock

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2015, 07:13:30 PM »
Monkey brain may very well make you want to get by on one income. I always thought I would be working right after I had kids. Interviewed for a new job when I was about 32 weeks along. Ended up staying home for 6+ years with them- and it was JOY! So, you just don't know what you'll want until you have that baby with you. Babies really can change everything.

Other than that, in some ways it can feel like there is never a good time for a baby. They totally mess up your plans for other stuff. If you always wanted to backpack Europe or something, get it out of the way now - because it will be way more expensive and nearly impossible logistically until the kids is like 12+. (And I have been to Spain, Netherlands, Portugal, Morocco, Jamaica, hawaii, Idaho, Michigan, NYC, Florida, and all over w/ my kids who are now 8 and 11 - pending trip to Iceland this August too). Way  more expensive and they don't want to hang out in a museum and then eat a fancy lunch during travels.

HappierAtHome

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #8 on: February 02, 2015, 09:40:54 PM »
I don't have kids yet (as you know) but some of the questions I would be asking myself:
Are we both as healthy as we can possibly be? Are all our medical conditions under control?
Is our emergency fund /stash large enough?
Are we both advanced enough with our careers / happy with where they're at, in case we don't get promoted again for several years after babies are born? (More of a concern for anyone who's going back to work part-time - my observation is that when you're on the part-time / "mummy track" it takes at least a few years before you're in the running for promotions again).
Have we worked out what split of parenting and working for money we think we would like to do*, and are we both happy with it? e.g. one SAHP, two parents working part-time and staying home part-time, etc.
What will we do for child care (if needed)? Do we know roughly how much child care costs in our area?
Have we made room in our house for a baby? (I know you're decluttering right now!).
Is there anything in our lives that we want to change prior to having children?
Are we going to have them in the private or public system? If public, some googling will help you work out which hospital your postcode will allocate you to, and you can start doing research. If private, you can start researching your options and making sure you have the level of cover you want.
Have we spoken to our GPs and specialists about this?
Are we making any assumptions about parental or familial support that we should instead discuss openly? e.g. assuming that one of your parents might be willing to babysit unpaid while you're at work - you know what they say about assuming.

*Obviously subject to change after baby is born.

Mark31

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #9 on: February 02, 2015, 11:32:30 PM »
I did a pre-baby parenting course as part of a University study.

There were two really good parts.

Separately, write down your expectations after the baby arrives with chores. What percentage of dinners do you expect to cook? What percentage of nappy changing? What percentage of cleaning? Of supermarket shopping? Does the father expect to go out drinking with his mates once a week? Do you expect him to look after the baby while you go for your weekly swim? When the babies awake and painfully cheerful at 4.30 in the morning, who will get up with it? A lot of problems can arise because partners thought they had the same expectations, but it turns out they didnít.

The other item, and I canít remember the details exactly, but we had to shade in a 24 hour clock with x numbers of feeds, one hour of fussing, making dinner, and so on, and you very quickly realise there isnít enough time in the day.

The best thing for getting enough sleep in my opinion is to co-sleep and breastfeed. If you are not obese, sick or a smoker, your bedding is not supersoft, and you are doing this thoughtfully, the risk of SIDS is lower than having them in a separate room. Even if you donít want to do this all the time, itís much safer to do this than to fall asleep on the couch with them. If you have trouble breastfeeding (hint: itís not meant to hurt), the Australian Breastfeeding Association has a 24 hour help-line, staffed by volunteers (you donít even need to be a member), and you can attend their meetings if you want some hands on advice.

I also recommend baby led weaning for when they start on solids. You just give them ordinary food they can hold themselves and savage. Itís really, really easy.

With the birth, Iím a big fan of doulas. Some can be a bit flaky-hippie, but find one that suits you. Having a calm support person to tell people to keep the lights down and advocate for your birth plan is amazing. I donít know the WA system, but if they have something like a Birth Centre, or at the very least, somewhere that practices Midwifery Group Practice, thatís the way to go.

Oh, and donít buy anything, unless a really cute outfit catches your eye. People will want to give you crazy amounts of stuff. Youíll get way too many clothes, so try and direct friends to get more useful things

Anatidae V

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2015, 12:09:11 AM »
Ah these are great, I'll definitely check out the book and go through all these questions with my partner.

We're not on any medication at the moment, but I am on a liquid iron supplement. I have an anxiety disorder, which I think puts me at higher risk of post natal depression. He doesn't have a full time job, and that was something he was working on anyway. I like my career, but I can see that I may need to go part time before the baby arrives.

I have a friend who opted for something through centrelink and had a bunch of issues - any advice for dealing with that?

Kaydedid

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2015, 12:38:35 AM »
Seconding taking folate and a prenatal right now, and getting your body into good shape.  I was active before getting pregnant, and have remained active (had to switch to swimming due to joint pain).  It has helped a ton with feeling better both physically and mentally.

Kind of a weird suggestion, but if you use a commercial lubricant during sex (KY, etc.), you might want to look into using something else.  Turns out most water-based lubricants can hinder and/or damage sperm.  We tried for several months, and finally switched to olive oil - got pregnant that month (dunno if the oil was the trick, but it's worth a try and cheap, unlike the expensive pro-conception lubricants).

Make sure you have lots of support for your mental health issues.  It's actually more common to have depressive episodes while pregnant than post-partum. There are definitely meds you can take if needed (especially after the first trimester), so it might be good to find a psychiatrist with a background in treating pre/post partum issues.  They can also help set up a post-partum plan for preventing or treating mental health issues.  Going regularly to a counselor might also be a good idea, so they can keep an eye on you and help spot problems.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2015, 05:18:44 AM »
The best thing for getting enough sleep in my opinion is to co-sleep and breastfeed. If you are not obese, sick or a smoker, your bedding is not supersoft, and you are doing this thoughtfully, the risk of SIDS is lower than having them in a separate room. Even if you donít want to do this all the time, itís much safer to do this than to fall asleep on the couch with them. If you have trouble breastfeeding (hint: itís not meant to hurt), the Australian Breastfeeding Association has a 24 hour help-line, staffed by volunteers (you donít even need to be a member), and you can attend their meetings if you want some hands on advice.

This is the only way we got any sleep at all.

Neustache

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2015, 05:49:23 AM »
Ahh yes, co-sleeping at first is wonderful.  It was the only way I could sleep.  Breaking the habit can be tough, but I'd much rather do it later with a toddler than try to get a baby to sleep when I'm hormonal and recovering from surgery.

But you must do it safely.  After the fact, I was horrified when I realized I was on pain meds the entire time post-birth.  Should NOT have been co-sleeping, but at the time I didn't even think about it.   Everything was fine, but yikes. 


I had some mild post-partum with my first.  With my second, I did a ton of skin to skin contact, and that really helped me bond with my baby.  Little awkward when people would want to visit in the hospital, and I'm topless under a blanket and the baby is sleeping on me, but whatever.  I needed that bonding time.  I can't be certain that is why I was fine, as the two pregnancies and deliveries were very different, but I like to think it helped. 

Gray Matter

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2015, 05:55:57 AM »
If you don't already, get to know your cycle and body really well.  I liked the book, "Taking Charge of Your Fertility" by Toni Weschler (it's an oldie, but goody).  Beyond that, I would say go into it with a really open mind and don't be hard on yourself if you don't "feel what you're supposed to feel" while pregnant, or right after the baby is born, etc.  As a three-time mom, I have discovered that each time was a little different for me (didn't bond with the first at all in utero--too abstract, etc.).  And don't buy in to all the pressure to be the perfect mom and do everything right.  Parenting has become an extreme sport and that's a shame.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2015, 05:59:18 AM »
Also, if you're on birth control pills now, once you go off of them there can be a time when the cycle doesn't happen and you don't feel all that great.

Hannah

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2015, 08:57:50 AM »
Interesting thread. The one thing that I wish we had done differently is to not make any big life decisions while pregnant or with a newborn.

We moved across the country, transitioned to one income (for my husband to be a student), bought a house, and began a newish career all while in my third trimester or with a newborn baby. Way too much.

So if you think you want to purchase a house, do it before you're pregnant. If you want to move cities, do it before you're pregnant etc.

I will say that changing jobs in the same city might feel big, but that's not such a big deal, so don't worry about that as much (particularly for the non pregnant one).

It's hard to listen to advice like that in your 20s/30s, but I really wish that I had. The first year after our son was born was so rough because we made too many stressful changes simultaneously.

greenshade

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2015, 10:11:42 AM »
I posted a question here about a month ago about my desire to SAH with my future offspring (Iím pregnant and due in less than 4 months).  We knew when we got married that we wanted to have children so we started working on this issue as well (not as well as some, we are a work in progress).

Finances:  I recommend eliminating debt and saving as much as you can.  Also, get a handle on where your money is going so that you can adjust for additional expenses with the baby.
We have paid off *most* of our SL debt, but still have about 19k to go.  Ideally we would have paid this off before getting pregnant, but our biological clocks are ticking and we decided to go for it.  We have been paying half of our income toward debt for about 2 years, so we are used to living off of one income. 

Health:  We both lost weight over the last several years.  I was down about 15 pounds when I got pregnant, so that has made the subsequent weight gain less of an issue.  I also recommend starting prenatal vitamins a few months before you start trying.

Psychosocial:  Being pregnant is a rollercoaster in this department.  I definitely echo the recommendation to plan for the possibility of living on one income.  I am working on making this a reality for our family because I cannot imagine leaving the baby with someone else all day, itís just not for me.  We are looking at PT work for me but I know there are lots of other options as well.  I also recommend working on your support system; we donít have family in the area so we are working on strengthening friendships and looking into resources for when the baby gets here (support group, etc.).

You wonít be able to plan for every possibility or have a perfect situation, so if you both really want to have a child, pick some realistic goals (for example, securing a certain income level) and then work on reaching those goals.  Once you have made sufficient progress, go for it.  Don't overthink it or stress about it, enjoy the journey.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2015, 10:15:19 AM »
pick some realistic goals (for example, securing a certain income level) and then work on reaching those goals.

We did this - we agreed we'd have $100k saved (our house was paid off) before starting trying.

Blazin

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2015, 10:56:30 AM »
I would make an appointment with my doctor(s) now and ask for recommendations.   For example, are there any immunizations you should get before you get pregnant? and maybe come up with a plan for anxiety with pregnancy so you have already kind of mapped out options in case it becomes more of an issue.   When I was pregnant I know I felt as if all decisions were enormous, so it may be helpful to research ahead of time with regards to medications and treatment option so the information may not feel as overwhelming when pregnant.

Having had 3 pregnancies I can agree with others who said they are all unique and there is no way to predict what it will be like.

I'm a red panda

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #20 on: February 03, 2015, 11:05:07 AM »
Financially one thing we've started doing is putting the cost of daycare into extra mortgage payments each month. When/if we have the kid, we'll have it already in our budget pain free; we'll also be further on our way to a paid off mortgage :)  If we don't end up having a kid, we'll have made significant headway towards early pay-off of our mortgage.  You could do the same thing with an investment account.  Just get that money somewhere that it isn't available for spending.  Or, if you plan to live on one income, start doing it now.


julez916

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #21 on: February 03, 2015, 11:22:50 AM »
We just had our first--she's just over three weeks old now! In addition to taking folate/prenatal vitamins, there were a few things I did to help balance my hormones that I think really helped. We got pregnant as soon as we started trying, and it may not have been because of anything I was ding, but I don't think these things can hurt. I started taking vitamin D,a good probiotic, and drinking natural calm (magnesium supplement) before bed. I also took folate, but I didn't do the prenatal until I actually got pregnant... Just made sure I was eating kits of veggies and his quality protein. I also opted to avoid soy... I used to be a vegetarian, and I have realized in hind sight that my cycle got thrown off pretty dramatically the more soy I was eating.

Meggslynn

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #22 on: February 03, 2015, 11:32:09 AM »
Ah these are great, I'll definitely check out the book and go through all these questions with my partner.

We're not on any medication at the moment, but I am on a liquid iron supplement. I have an anxiety disorder, which I think puts me at higher risk of post natal depression. He doesn't have a full time job, and that was something he was working on anyway. I like my career, but I can see that I may need to go part time before the baby arrives.

I have a friend who opted for something through centrelink and had a bunch of issues - any advice for dealing with that?

In regards to the post natal depression. Educate yourself now. Research natural supplements you can take and everything you can be doing in order to give yourself the best chance to avoid it.
I had PPD and it was BRUTAL so brutal in fact we are one and done for that reason alone.


MsFrugalista

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #23 on: February 03, 2015, 12:27:53 PM »
Kudos to you, anatidaev, for planning ahead and ensuring you and your partner are ready financially, mentally, and physically before embarking on a journey towards parenthood. We recently welcomed our first child and can only speak from my experience. One thing I learned was no matter how much you plan, sometimes things don't go as planned. It took us 18 months to get pregnant and right before finding out we were pregnant, we had moved cross country, just bought our first house, and got a second dog! When it rains, it pours. However, everything has worked out so wonderfully. My pregnancy was very smooth and we welcomed a healthy, happy, and adorable baby - but not everyone has a fortunate experience.

I would definitely make an appointment with your OBGyn or Practitioner of choice (if you haven't already) to discuss your specific situation and clarify any questions you may have. I would start taking a folate/folic acid (I waited until I got pregnant to take a prenatal vitamin). I also took a Vitamin D supplement as I had mildly low levels of it. For your pre- and post-natal care, in addition to a medical doctor, you may want to consider a midwife. I did not have one, however, have friends who have had midwives and have said they were very helpful in keeping them sane throughout their pregnancy and especially during labour and delivery.

As for your finances, I agree with others on this thread to be prepared to live on one income. Be prepared to take time off during your pregnancy and definitely after. Look up your benefits (via your employer and government). Also, you may want to talk about child care options (daycare, au pair/nanny, relative, etc.). Depending on your area, you may have to get on a wait list at child care centers (we were really glad we looked into this before the baby came!).  Also, what you choose may change once the baby comes. I didn't think I would take the maximum leave, but after spending time with the little one, I don't want to go back to work anytime soon!

In regards to PPD - I educated myself on this and talked to my doctor in great length about it. Depression runs in my family, so I wanted to make sure I was prepared if needed. Having an extremely supportive partner was key for me. He would keep an eye out for any signs and always ask me how I'm doing.

hunniebun

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Re: Planning a child
« Reply #24 on: February 03, 2015, 12:35:06 PM »
http://www.gailvazoxlade.com/articles/life_happens/having_a_baby.html

This a Canadian lady who gives financial advice, but has several blogs and articles about planning your finances to include a new baby.  Might have some ideas of things you have thought about.