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Are You Ready for a Baby?

Do you find yourself daydreaming about baby names and secretly scouring Pinterest for nursery décor ideas? Despite their tiny size, babies come with big responsibilities, new financial obligations and major lifestyle changes. Whether you’re pondering getting pregnant or already have a baby on the way, these are some important things to think about on your journey to motherhood.

Your Health
Pregnancy isn’t just about flaunting that cute baby bump. Make sure your health is in tip-top shape before you conceive. Doctors recommend taking prenatal vitamins pre-pregnancy. Look for a vitamin that contains at least 400 mcg of folic acid and take one each day to help reduce the risk of neural tube defects. Also, be sure to schedule a preconception doctor’s visit to address any medical issues you may have before getting pregnant. It’s your chance to ask questions, discuss your medical history, weight, diet, lifestyle and more.

Your Lifestyle
When you have a baby, it’s not just about you anymore. Heading to happy hour after work on a whim won’t be so easy. Going to the movies with your man requires a lot more planning. And your living room may look like a toy-spewing tornado blew through. But before you freak out, know that you can still have a life, friends and a job when you have a baby. You just have to be ready and willing to make adjustments. No question about it… babies are cute, but they’re not always cooperative. There will be plenty of sleepless nights spent in a rocking chair, and mornings where you’ll have about six minutes to make it to work on time. But every smile, giggle and new adventure with your little one will be a new kind of “happy hour.”

Your Spouse
Although you’ll be the one with the big belly and birth bragging rights, this isn’t just your decision. Both you and your spouse need to be on the same family planning page. Make sure you’re strong as a couple before you bring a baby into the mix, because a baby isn’t the solution to a rocky relationship. And don’t feel pressure from family or friends to take the plunge because you think you’re supposed to. Just move on your own time frame since that’s ultimately best for everyone.

Remember, once that adorable tot enters your life, it will be hard to focus on anything else, including your spouse. So, before you have a baby, talk about the ways in which you two can still spend time together and keep your relationship a top priority.

Your Finances
Before you worry about paying for college think about how you’ll pay for all the things your baby needs when they enter the world. It’s easy to get carried away on furniture, clothes and gadgets. From cribs to car seats, diapers to strollers, the must-haves may seem endless. Luckily, you can save money without sacrificing quality. While designer cribs can be upwards of $1,000, that doesn’t mean you can’t find a stylish, affordable alternative. It helps to create a list and start researching before you shop. Ask your mommy friends for advice and recommendations. Aside from the gear expenses, create a budget to determine how much it will cost to feed, diaper and care for your baby.

Your Maternity Leave
Maternity leave lengths and payment policies differ for everyone. It’s important to talk to your employer when you’re ready to share the news about your pregnancy. Learn about your company’s policy early on so you know what you’re entitled to and can start to plan ahead. You may have the option to take unpaid leave after your paid benefits run out. But can you afford it? Is your spouse planning to take leave as well? Can you stagger your time off so that you can prolong your need for childcare? These questions may seem overwhelming now, but are important to think about.

Your Plan for Childcare
From nannies to daycare, or very helpful grandparents, there are many options, all with a different price tag. Keep in mind it’s not always easy to find the perfect fit. So, start your search at the beginning of your second trimester. It may feel strange to begin thinking about this so early, but in many cities, daycares fill up fast.  Schedule visits to tour facilities and get on the wait list. If you’re interested in a nanny, they can be more expensive. Talk to friends and family for recommendations, or check out neighborhood online forums for referrals. Most importantly, start thinking about how childcare will fit into your family budget now, to avoid big surprises (and scrambling to come up with the funds) when it gets closer to your due date.

Your Space
If you live in a tiny studio or one bedroom apartment, chances are you’ll probably have to move into something larger to accommodate your new family member and their belongings. Even if you have an extra bedroom in your current place, there’s still a lot to be done to turn it into a nursery. It’s best to clean, baby-proof, re-organize and re-arrange things early in your pregnancy when you have the energy!

Jessica Solloway is a Washington, DC based writer and producer. From wedding planning to work, dating to dieting (and everything in between), she enjoys writing about lifestyle topics women want to know about. Jessica received her degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Check out her blog, The Savvy Mrs.