For first-time parents, the decision to have a child is sometimes much easier than the choices that come later. After all, we are biologically programmed to have, love, and raise children, so this choice is very often a no-brainer. But as the pregnancy starts to progress and the reality of your situation begins to settle in, you will discover that there are a slew of other decisions you have to make, beginning with a number of important ones that must be settled before the child is even born. If you are at this point, here are some of the most important things you will have to think carefully about.
1. Breast milk, formula, or both?
There are many factors that should go into how you wish to feed your baby. Most important, there is health. All relevant authorities agree that breast feeding is preferable to formula feeding and should be the primary source of the child’s nutrition for at least the first several months of life. If you cannot breast feed, however, you do not have to feel bad, because today’s formulas are perfectly healthy, and children can thrive on them. It is just a little less natural and can be more challenging in several ways.
2. Child care
Next you have to decide how to share the responsibility of caring for the child. This is an especially fraught question in households where both parental figures think of career as a top priority. The traditional way, of course, is for the mother to take care of the child, but that tradition is no longer meaningful to many people, and it is quite common these days for the woman to be a significant or primary breadwinner in the household. Meanwhile, stay-at-home dads are a growing phenomenon, and few people today think it strange. And of course, there are also caregivers other than the parents.
3. Choosing a pediatrician
Mere days after you are released from the hospital with your newborn, it will be time for your first visit with your family’s pediatrician. There are ways to handle this if you do not already have a pediatrician chosen. For one, you can go to a family physician covered by your insurance while you continue to seek a pediatrician who is right for your family. But for everyone involved, it is much easier if you at least try to find a pediatrician whom you can work with for the long run. This way, you can develop a rapport right off the bat.
4. Changing habits
Before your child is born, there might be some things about yourself that you want to change. For example, if you smoke tobacco or use alcohol more than you would like, now is the best moment to tackle the issue. There will likely be no other time in your life when the issue is more pressing, so deal with it now. It is also a good time to take care of any medical issues, physical or mental, that you have been brushing under the rug for a while.
5. The baby’s space
Infants are largely attached to their parents and do not need a lot of space or possessions of their own. But before you know it, the time will come when your child is ready to sleep independently and to have a little play space that is all his or her own. While you are preparing for your child in other ways, start thinking about where this space should be and what you want it to look like.