Having your first child is the most anxiety-inducing, nauseating roller coaster ride I’ve ever had the privilege of experiencing. While it’s not all sunshine and rainbows–with the morning sickness, the kicking, the constant need to pee, and things that I won’t even bother mentioning for those of you that are rather squeamish–it’s definitely an experience that’s like no other. It brings joy to your life in ways that you never thought you could experience. From hearing the heartbeat for the first time, to seeing those amazing ultrasound photos, to the first time you lay eyes on your newest love… the entire experience is a game changer.
While pregnancy is certainly an amazing time, it’s also the best time for a bit of planning by you and your husband. Now that you have a new child you’re bringing into the world, it’s time to start looking at the possibilities, and endlessly debating which one is right for your newborn.
Some of these are:
Do you want to give birth at home? At a hospital? In water? With an epidural? Naturally? It can all be rather overwhelming and that doesn’t make this already stressful portion of your life any easier. That said, it’s better to sit down with your partner and discuss the possibilities now, rather than to wing it when you’re having contractions and on your way to the hospital.
Risk Factor Assessment
There are certain conversations you need to have with your physician to discuss things that could lead to possible complications, as well as birth and/or genetic defects. After this conversation, your doctor will often advise tests after determining risk factors. One such example is genetic defects. If you are of an advanced age (35 years or older), have a familial history of genetic defects, a positive serum sample, and/or an ultrasound finding, your doctor will often order a prenatal DNA test. This test isn’t as scary as it sounds, and only requires a small blood sample from the mother. It tests for the presence of trisomies, such as Trisomy 21 (Down syndrome), Trisomy 18 (Edwards syndrome) and Trisomy 13 (Patau syndrome).
To Circumcise or Not
This is a hotly debated topic currently, and those on the side of non-circumcision of children will cite the numerous doctors that question whether or not circumcision is truly necessary. That said, there do appear to be some health benefits, such as a decrease in penile cancer, and sexual contraction rates of HIV. However, penile cancer only affects 10 in every million American men, and the contraction rate for HIV – whether circumcised or uncircumcised – from vaginal sex is relatively low (about 1 in 2380).
Do You Have a Parenting Style – or Plan?
Many first-time parents find that their parenting styles are dramatically different. As such, it’s always a wise idea to discuss parenting methods, as well as ways that specific scenarios (punishment, rewards, television time, dating, etc.) could play out. Getting on – and staying on – the same page as parents is one of the major hurdles that most new (or veteran) parents will have to face. Honest and open dialogue beforehand can save a lot of grief later.
Are you going to be a stay at home mom, or return to work? What kind of timeframe are you looking at? Are there any indulgences that you might have to cut down on with one income (if you live in a country – or work at a job – that doesn’t cover maternity leave)? These are serious considerations, and ones that could have a significant impact on your short and long-term financial standing. It’s important to have a solid plan, as opposed to playing it by ear and being forced to return to work if and when you should run into significant money issues.
These are just a few of the conversations you’ll have with your partner, and/or your physician, but it’s a good outline to get you started. As you go, I’m sure that you’ll discover even more topics for conversation and planning, which is always a good thing for your family.
Being a parent is one of the most joyous times of you and your partner’s life. That said, it’s not always easy, but with a bit of planning, and some honest conversation, you can minimize any present or future issues that you or your partner may face. Keep those lines of dialogue open throughout your pregnancy, and long after in order to minimize stress and anxiety in your familial life. It’s a skill that can keep everyone in your family happy for years to come.