Here comes change

Everyone has probably told you that nothing can prepare you for motherhood. But there are a few issues to consider before you decide to have a child.

You, me and the baby

Pregnancy and parenthood put a great strain on a relationship. If you have problems in your relationship, you should think twice about having a child. Having a baby will never fix a bad marriage – it will only aggravate problems. There are several reasons for this:

  • Hormonal changes: Most pregnant women become more needy, sensitive and weepy, making it more difficult to resolve conflict.
  • Anxiety about parenthood: If it is your first pregnancy, you will probably feel anxious about how you would cope, finances and whether or not you would be a good parent. The anxiety can make you and/or your partner feel insecure and needing more reassurance and affirmation.
  • Dad-to-be: Your partner will obviously have a very different experience of pregnancy and early parenthood. This can leave you feeling misunderstood and could be a source of confrontation.
  • Finances: As your financial situation may change dramatically, conflict could arise around finances. You may feel less in control of finances because you have to rely on your partner for income.
  • Sex: The way you feel about your body may change, affecting how you feel about sex. Although it is safe to have sex during pregnancy, you and/or your partner may feel uncomfortable about having sex or worried that it will harm the baby.
  • Feeling excluded: Your partner may find it more difficult to bond with the baby while you are pregnant and may feel excluded when you are breastfeeding.
  • Lack of attention: Because you will be preoccupied with the baby, your relationship could suffer because you are spending less time together.
  • Resentment: As most of your time is taken up by your baby, you could feel resentful about giving up time, activities and your independence. You could also resent the fact that your partner has more freedom and time to himself.
  • Loneliness: Being alone with a baby for long hours while your partner is at work could make you feel isolated and lonely. You may be more needy than usual and more reliant on your partner for stimulation.
  • Sleep deprivation: This will make you (and your partner) less tolerant of differences and less able to handle conflict constructively.

Baby in, money out
You will soon find out that the saying: “every baby brings his own bread into the world” is far from true. Babies cost money and you will take a dramatic drop in income if you and your partner are used to being joint breadwinners.

Some of the things you should budget for include the following:

  • Ante-natal doctor’s visits
  • Ante-natal classes
  • Your labour and hospital stay
  • Everything you would need for the baby (such as equipment, toiletries, nappies, clothing)
  • Post-natal clinic (if done privately) and doctor’s visits
  • Immunisations (if done privately)
  • Formula (if you will not be breastfeeding)
  • Childcare

What you could do:

  • Discuss financial obligations with your partner and draw up a budget
  • Take out medical aid. Register your baby as a dependent once he/she is born
  • Check that your life insurance is in order
  • Draw up a will
  • Take out an educational policy for your child

Work wobbles
Don't expect to remain the high-powered, energetic career woman throughout your pregnancy. Especially during the first trimester, you will be extremely tired and lack energy. The second trimester is far easier as far as energy levels are concerned. The last trimester has its own difficulties. During this time you will feel increasingly uncomfortable and may also struggle to get your eight hours' sleep at night.

The important thing is not to try to be a superwoman and to achieve everything. Allow yourself time to adjust to the different stages of pregnancy and remember that you are already busy with the most important job in the world: giving life.

Don't fall into the trap of working until the last minute. Countless new mothers complain that they planned to take the last week or two off so that they could have a little time to themselves before their babies came. The problem is that most babies don't arrive on the due date and the women found themselves having to go straight from work to motherhood.

Once your baby has arrived, your work will probably not be the same again. Gone are the days of travelling away from home and working long hours. You will be bound to childcare arrangements and will have to return home at a fixed time every day.

Don’t bank on taking work home with you. It’s impossible to predict the challenges that await you. You may have a child who is demanding, colic or suffering from ill health. You also need time after hours to catch up on sleep!

If you plan to continue breastfeeding, you will have to invest in a good breast pump to express milk. Make sure that your office has a place where you could express and store breast milk.

Work from home?
Working from home has the advantage that you will have more contact with your baby during the day, but consider the following:

  • Get childcare even if you are at home. It is hard to work and take care of a baby.
  • Set your office up in a secluded, quiet area where you will not be distracted by every sound your baby makes. If you work where your baby can see you, he or she will demand that you spend time with him or her and will be less likely to settle down with the childminder.

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