5 Decisions You Make Before Baby Arrives
Becoming a parent is a momentous occasion. It’s a step in life where you and your significant other take that next great leap into your future. But, there are so many unknowns and so many things that come to mind when attempting to prepare for such a journey. So what are the “must-make” decisions every parent should decide on before baby arrives? Well, as a mom of three, I have narrowed down the seemingly endless list to a manageable starting point.
The Overnight Plan
Decide if you want to co-sleep, have baby in a bassinet or in a crib when they come home. This is a personal preference and only you can decide what is right. In the first few months, having the baby - who is up every few hours - nearby is actually beneficial for the grumpy, lacking in sleep mother. But that was just me.
So, maybe leave the crib sleeping, in the other room, for when the little one is finally…finally…sleeping for longer stretches.
The other part of this planning I would like you to consider is the role your significant other will play, assuming you aren’t going it alone. If you are a military mom with a deployed husband, or parenting on your own for other reasons, then this won’t apply.
But, if you have help, then this is a partnership so, there should be a bit of tag team parenting happening. If you are a stay-at-home parent, you may decide to let the working parent do the sleeping during the week, but consider dividing it up on the weekends.
The important part is to talk about it in advance. Screaming at one another at 3am because the responsibilities are not being shared and you can’t believe that the other person doesn’t understand just how exhausted you have become, while trying to get sweet little newborn back to sleep, is not productive.
Have the conversation in advance as to how you will support one another through this sleepless transition.
Bottle or Breast
This is a personal decision. No one can, and no one should, tell you how to go about feeding your child. Do your due diligence and find out about both options before making your decision. They both have their merits. You want to know that you made a decision based on all the facts, not on the opinions of others. Surround yourself with a support system who will be there for you through the decision that you make.
If you decide on breastfeeding, make sure you take a class or at least chat with a lactation consultant, because sure, it’s the “natural” thing to do, but it does take some practice to figure it all out and sometimes, there are a few learning curves before you get it right.
If you go with the bottle, then research the different types of bottles, nipples and formulas (regular, organic, soy), then decide which sounds best for your goals.
Disposable or Cloth Diapers
When the doctor told me that we were having twins, I knew there were two things that were going to happen: 1 - I was going to have to drive a minivan forever and 2 - I was not going to be able to go the cloth diaper route as I had hoped. I know my limits and mommy ain’t going into no straight jacket for the environment.
Make the decision for yourself based on budget, time, patience and your ability to be diligent with your wash. Research the diapers thoroughly if you decide to go the cloth diaper route - they can be pricey, but over the course of over two years, a real budget saver, and they are so environmentally friendly. Please do it, so I can feel less guilty about the landfill I’m filling up.
Planning childcare in advance is extremely important, especially if both parents intend to go back to work after the maternity leave period is over and if you live in a high demand area. Often, in big cities, there can be lengthy waiting lists to get into the more desirable schools. A few things to consider are number of days, hours and the overall budget you have for childcare.
Additionally, be certain you look into the background of each school you are considering. Look online and ask around within the community. Word of mouth is sometimes better than what you will find elsewhere.
If you are fortunate to have family or good friends around, it’s important to schedule in time to get out without your child in tow. This may not be something you are comfortable with doing right away, and that’s ok. But at some point, date night is in order for you and your significant other.
And for those times when you can’t get out together, take turns getting out on your own. The time away will be a much needed reprieve from diaper duty. Stepping out for an hour to get a pedicure or to simply run errands on your own can do wonders for your morale, so take that time - guilt free.
The most important piece of advice I can offer you out of all of this is, there are no right answers. What works for me, may not work for you. What made sense for your BFF’s family may not make sense for yours.
Go with what feels right and be flexible as you embark on this wondrous journey because, it will change and you will evolve as a parent. It’s just part of the deal. What you “thought” you would do, isn’t necessarily what you will be doing 6 months after the birth of your child. What you did with your first child, you can bet you won’t be doing with your third.
But, you’ve got to start somewhere right?
Photo: Sean Dreilinger