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Determine if you are ready

Determine if you are ready
Emotional Aspect of Becoming Parents

Before you get pregnant, think about the emotional and lifestyle issues you will face as a parent. It's important for you and your partner to agree on most of the major issues, or begin discussing your differences, before you conceive.

Try to ask yourself these ten questions:

• Why do you want to have a baby? Have you made up your own mind? Is your partner, a parent or someone else pressuring you?

• How will a child affect your relationship with your partner? Are you both ready to become parents?

• If you're not in a relationship, are you prepared to raise a child alone? Who will help you?

• How will a baby affect your future educational or career plans?

• Do you and your partner have religious or ethnic differences? Have you discussed how you will handle these differences and how they might affect your child?

• What will you do for child care?

• Are you prepared to parent a child who is sick or has special needs?

• Are you ready to give up sleeping in on weekend mornings? Are you ready to find child care every time you want to go out without your baby?

• Do you enjoy spending time with children? Can you see yourself as a parent?

• What did you like about your childhood? What didn't you like? What do you want for your child?

Your Physical Health

Of course the physical health aspect of future parents has a great affect on the health of their baby. As a responsible mom and dad you should take care of your health before planning a baby. There are specific things you can do to help your baby even before you're pregnant. Consider that baby's organs begin to form in the first four weeks of pregnancy, before many women even know they are pregnant.

Moves you can do to improve your health before become a parent:

• Get a pre-pregnancy checkup, including a dental checkup.

• Eat healthy food, maintain a healthy weight and get fit.

• Stop smoking and avoid secondhand smoke.

• Stop drinking alcohol.

• Don't use illegal drugs.

• Avoid stress.

• Take a multivitamin with 400 micrograms (mcg) of folic acid every day before pregnancy.

• Avoid infections because some can harm a fetus.
• Avoid hazardous substances and chemicals.

• Talk to you health care provider about your family history, genetics and birth defects.

Financial Planning

Many new parents are astonished by how expensive a baby can be. But if you plan ahead, these new costs will be easier to manage.

Things to consider before start the conceiving:

• Check your health insurance. Does it cover medical care for you during pregnancy and for your newborn baby?

• Make saving a habit.

• Take a look at your budget. How will having a baby affect your income and expenses?

• Check the leave policy where you work. How much maternity leave do you get?

• Review or purchase long-term disability and life insurance coverage.

Let's face it: for many couples, having a baby is an economic as well as an emotional decision. Now is the time to review what you have and what you'll need so you'll be ready when the time comes.

Take a look at your budget in black and white. You may find that you need to cut down on your expenses and start putting money aside for your baby. If you're going to stop working after your baby arrives, now 's the time to start "practicing" living on less. The same goes if you're going to take an unpaid maternity leave, even though it's only temporary.

Shopping for a baby-to-come is great fun but give some thought to what items really need to be top-of-the-line. If you buy items used, or borrow them, be sure they meet current safety standards.

Health Insurance Options. It's a good idea to check on all this before you get pregnant, in case you decide that your current plan doesn't meet your needs. If you decide to switch after you're pregnant, be sure that your new insurance plan covers pre-existing conditions.

• Does it cover prenatal care? What prenatal tests are covered?

• Does it cover your health care provider?

• Does it cover a pre-pregnancy planning visit with your health care provider?

• What delivery options are covered?

• Does it cover nursery costs for the baby?

• Is there a co-payment? If so, how much is it?

• Is there a deductible? If so, how much is it?

• Are anesthesia and emergency c-sections covered?

• Are sick and well-baby visits covered?
• What can I expect my total out-of-pocket expenses to be?

If your employer doesn't offer health benefits, or you can't afford them, check out the children's health insurance program in your state. This program provides free or low-cost coverage to pregnant women and their babies, even if you and/or your partner are working.

Buy Life Insurance. Don't forget to purchase life insurance for a stay-at-home parent if something happens to that parent. Get Long-Term Disability Insurance It's very important that the primary breadwinner in the family has disability insurance. Check to see if you're covered by your employer and the terms of the coverage; if you don't think it's enough, get more.

You need to be sure your child will be raised and provided for in the way you intend if something happens to you. One way to insure this is to make a will that states who should take care of your child.
Look Into Maternity and Paternity Leave Policies. It's essential to know what benefits your company offers new parents. If you work full time and plan to return to your job after your baby is born, find out about your company's maternity leave policy.

All this might sound like a lot, but there's no need to panic. Start planning before time, get all the information you need and be realistic.

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