A lot of people have asked Daras & I how we planned for a baby, because a) we’re younger than the average parents to be these days and b) because it feels like we were busy busy busy prior to having Liara! I figured it would be a good idea to put down this guide that helped us along the way!
- Ear mark a savings plan
Within our first year of marriage, we set a realistic 5 year savings plan, with roughly year 3-4 earmarked for our first child. Daras created a spreadsheet which had our salaries, our total outgoing bills and a budget for our individual spending money. When all this data was put in, a formula was generated to determine how much we could realistically save month on month and what we were expected to be on by the end of the year based on our outgoings. It was important that any extra money that we wanted to spend outside of our budget was discussed first and open to negotiation. I flip flop between saving hard some months and spending hard other months, #yolo whereas Daras is very consistent on the savings front and only spends what is absolutely needed. We inevitably found the balance of saving and spending (though admittedly, it did take a couple of months!) but thankfully due to the open line of communication, nothing drastic or life-altering happened. Finances are very important in a marriage and experts say it is the number one cause of arguments. It’s important to get on the same page about this as early as possible (before marriage ideally!)
- Start thinking about your contraception and prenatal vitamins
So, I was on the combined pill for many, many years which was prescribed to me medically for a number of reasons, but of course it doubled up as contraception. (I’m not one for advocating one contraception over the other – everyone is different and it’s what works for you, so I urge you to do your own research and make an informed decision weighing up pros and cons.) Personally, I decided to come off the pill to see if my medical issues had eased up, and of course to prepare for the possibility of falling pregnant. I chose to do this 2 or maybe 3 months before trying and dosed up on prenatal vitamins (pregnacare, if you’re interested!) again, as much as it’s a personal decision, your partner MUST be included in this decision too. There’s nothing worse for a man to feel as if he’s “trapped” and it’s your way or no way. Truthfully, hubby was a tad hesitant at first for me to come off my contraception but I assured him it was preparation for months ahead, not right now, now, now. Granted, I fell pregnant quicker than expected, but hey God’s timing, right?!
- Get fit or die trying
Haha honestly, the gym was my best friend. For those of you who don’t know, I lost a whopping 2 stone before becoming pregnant. Basically, I was overweight and hugely unhappy with my appearance. I was at risk of developing high blood pressure and was super unfit. I knew that this time two years ago, when I realised in the next 6-8 months I could be pregnant, my body was in no position to host a baby healthily. Granted, you naturally gain weight being pregnant, however it truly frightened me of being so overweight I couldn’t catch up with my kids chasing after them! So I hit the gym and actually became vegan for a month (Veganuary!) it was a great kick start to my health and I adapted so many healthy qualities that it didn’t feel like a chore, but a lifestyle and something I’ve maintained to date with a few adaptations to help my growing bubba as I’m still breastfeeding. So, whether you’re in the normal weight or not, adapt a healthy lifestyle – walk at least 30 mins a day if that’s all you can manage – then when that becomes a walk in the park, (pun intended!) step it up to 45 mins, then an hour or take up running. Encourage your partner to do this also if you need a bit of motivation!
- Analyse eating patterns – cut out salty, sugary fatty & processed foods
All of these stuff lead to messy pregnancy illnesses. Honestly, it’s not just about dieting for two weeks or a month before conceiving, experts say to realistically start planning 6 months before! There’s no better way than to start looking after your temple and feeding it what it needs, not what it wants.
- Get blood tests completed for you and your partner
It’s good to know in advance if there’s anything your baby could inherit e.g. sickle cell, anaemia etc. Around 8 weeks pregnant, you’re seen by your midwife who will take your blood anyway to determine this but again, nothing wrong with planning ahead as soon as possible or sitting down and discussing family history so you know what to expect down the line and receive help and advice if needed.
- Babysit friends’ kids or family members, BONUS: nail the night time routine!
This was by FAR my favourite baby prep…not sure why it’s not number one to be honest! We babysat two kids from our church regularly which was an absolute dream! It really helped us understand what would be required of us as parents: sticking to feeding times, nap times, TV shows, playtime, discipline, dealing with tantrums effectively, changing smelly nappies, Bath time…name it, we nailed it! It also gave time for us to talk and reflect at what went well and what we could’ve done better. Our last babysitting adventure before I became pregnant was a 12 hour shift and it was a huge success! This is definitely a must! Practice makes perfect!
- Consider the area you live in
We lived in a lovely area but the schools were not great. We knew that by year 3 we needed to move out of the borough and look for somewhere with decent schools and a decent commute to work. Thankfully, due to careful planning this all worked out, again you may need to discuss budget and alter/compromise this if at all possible to ensure you get the best for your child!
- Consider the actual place you’re currently living in
Again, similar to the above point: is the place you’re living in baby friendly? We lived in a very cozy one bedroom flat. We didn’t even have space to store a hoover let alone a cot! So we knew that it was just a temporary pad and we’ll be out of there when the time comes!
- Talk to a variety of mums, new, older, grandmothers…the lot of them!
Self explanatory really. They’ve been there, done that got the T-shirt and there’s wealth of experience and wisdom they have to share with you. Of course, take some and leave some to your own taste but be very open to listening and adopting styles and attitudes that you may not have thought of.
- Pray and be open to change
This should be high up too! I had to pray and be open to the fact bang on our 3rd anniversary, I may not be pregnant for numerous reasons and I was beginning to be okay with this. I had to stop obsessing with the idea of being pregnant and let God take the wheel. So much so that I actually wanted to push having children a whole two years back so I could get my career on track, talk about swinging the other way completely! But yes, be flexible and open to change, trust that God’s timing is better than your own.
- Fight peer pressure
Ugh. I disliked how many people would pressure us into having kids before we knew it was time and ask me at gatherings: “So, are you pregnant yet?!” I used to get so annoyed and actually tell them to shut up and that if I was they would find out in due time! It did make me question if it was bad that we didn’t have a child at a certain stage in our marriage, but then I instantly shut down those thoughts and filled my mind with the truth that God had a plan and I just needed to be still. It’s okay to distance yourself from things or people that are making you feel inadequate. Just ask God for wisdom in that area and He’ll show you. There’s nothing worse than comparing your life to someone else’s and asking yourself why you’re not them, but there’s a simple answer: because you’re you. Made perfectly in God’s eyes with a whole bright future and plan that’s laid before you by God, and that’s what you should be focused on, developing and loving you the way God created!
- Consider pre-parenting counselling
Because of course becoming a first time parent is overwhelming enough as it is! There’s plenty of courses out there to guide you through parenthood, but if you’re interested, here’s the one we opted for.