Raising a child is a big deal, and there’s a lot to think about. If you’re considering parenting, knowing what to expect is helpful.
Am I prepared to meet my child’s needs?
Even though it can be fun and satisfying, parenting is also super hard. Most people don’t realize how much work it takes until they’ve actually experienced it. Sometimes getting used to parenting can be easier if you have a realistic idea of what it’ll be like.
Your children depend on you for food, shelter, safety, affection, love, and guidance. Their needs will change as they grow, and there may be times that are frustrating and challenging. Ask yourself if you have what you need to take care of a child, like:
Time — raising children is a full-time job, and it can put school and work on hold.
Energy and care — children need parents who are loving, patient, and involved.
Planning — raising a child takes day-to-day planning and long-term planning for all stages of your child's life.
Material things and money — children need clothes, diapers, food, health care, etc.
Having a child changes your life, whether it’s your first one or not. If you already have children, you already know both the joys and challenges of good parenting. If you don't have any children, talking with parents you know about their daily lives may help give you an idea about what life is like as a parent.
What support will I need if I have a child?
Parenting is hard work! Whether you’re a single parent or parenting with someone else, a child needs nonstop care and attention. Having a partner or family members to share the work of parenting makes the job a lot easier. Most parents could use a little help every once in awhile, especially when it comes to money and time. The kind of support parents often need includes help with running errands, getting clothes and baby supplies (hand-me-downs are really helpful), babysitting, and just having someone to talk with.
Many couples enjoy sharing the responsibility of raising a child. But parenting can also put a lot of stress on relationships. Either way, your relationship with your partner will change when you have a baby. Parenting together takes good communication and commitment to stick through the hard times. Read more about parenting with a partner.
Many people find themselves parenting on their own, or they choose to become single parents. Being a single parent can be tough, but it’s definitely not impossible. If you’ll need money or support raising your child, be realistic about how much the people in your life will be able to help. You may also be able to get help from certain government programs, but they usually only cover part of what you need. Read more about single parenting.
Overall, thinking about how much support you can expect if you choose to raise a baby can be helpful when deciding what to do about an unplanned pregnancy.
How will having a baby affect my health?
Even though most pregnancies go pretty smoothly, there are certain risks that come with pregnancy. Some are common discomforts that aren’t dangerous, like nausea, fatigue, and aches and pains. Other problems can be more serious like blood clots, high blood pressure, and diabetes. So it’s really important to get prenatal care as early as possible, and do everything you can to stay healthy throughout your whole pregnancy.
How will I feel after I have my baby?
It’s normal to have lots of different emotions after giving birth. Pregnancy and childbirth causes sudden shifts in hormones that can impact your mood and make feelings more intense.
People often experience strong feelings of happiness and love for their child. But sometimes, the joy of a new baby can be mixed with sadness and anxiety. Many new mothers need a extra support for a few weeks after giving birth.
A few people suffer from postpartum depression after having a baby, and may need professional help to keep themselves and their baby healthy. Long-term and serious depression is more common if you have a history of mental health problems or don’t have supportive people in your life. Talk to a doctor, nurse, or counselor if your depression lasts more than two weeks, or stops you from getting everyday tasks done.
No matter how you’re feeling, know that you’re not alone. A nurse or doctor can talk with you, or help you find a licensed counselor or a non-judgmental support group. You can also call Backline for free, confidential, non-judgmental support after your pregnancy.