Are You Ready?
Preparing for Parenting
By Alexa Pozniak
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center correspondent
According to the old playground song, "First comes love, then comes marriage … " but are you ready for the baby in the baby carriage?
Many consider having children part of this natural progression. But anyone with a newborn will tell you that life changes dramatically the minute that bundle of joy is placed in their arms. Experts agree that the decision to bring a baby into the world requires careful thought and consideration.
Christine Sweeney, LICSW, a clinical social worker in the Department of
Obstetrics and Gynecology at
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, believes timing is everything. While there is no "magic moment" for couples to have a baby, she cites two crucial factors that must be firmly in place: partners should be on the same page and their lives must be somewhat stable.
"In an ideal world, your relationship is in a good place and you both feel like this is something you want to do," she says. "It's also ideal when there are not a lot of other changes in your life, like if you're in the midst of a job change or making a move across the country.
"You should feel like you are ready to put your own needs or ambitions aside to make room for focusing on a child," she adds.
A study in the April 2000 issue of the Journal of Personality found that women had an easier time adjusting to motherhood when they had given a great deal of thought about the demands that having a baby would place upon their lives.
Sweeney heads up a program at BIDMC called the
Parent Connection, which provides resources and support for new parents. Among the many offerings is a unique workshop that aims to give expectant couples a look at how much time it takes to care for an infant.
One exercise involves a paper plate that represents the 24 hours in a day. Couples make a pie chart, detailing what is involved in basic baby care. Among the tasks they pencil in time for are feedings, diaper changes, and soothing a fussy baby. In the end, most discover that 19 hours out of every day will be dedicated to caring for the newborn. Also factored into the equation are things like bathroom breaks and a shower for new moms.
"This is pretty standard for the first 12 weeks, so it gives you a look at how life changes dramatically, which can be eye-opening for a lot of couples," says Sweeney.
If you do decide to give it a go, the next step is tackling those baby books to equip yourself with information. Today, many moms-to-be are tech-savvy, so the web is where they turn first. Sweeney says while these resources give parents a good framework, beware of information overload.
"Just know that for every expert opinion out there, there is always an opposite opinion. And there is such a thing as consuming too much information," she says. "Do not look to diagnose and figure something out over the internet because you will diagnose your baby with some rare disease and take yourself to a really bad place."
Instead, she advises seeking out an expert's opinion.
"Call your pediatrician," she urges. "The most important relationship besides your partner is the one you create with the pediatrician."
Above content provided by Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center. For advice about your medical care, consult your doctor.
Posted September 2012