You can’t prepare extensively enough for your first child. But why do many couples only start when they are really in “different circumstances”?
Name. Room. Stroller. Apartment. Work. Money. Relationship. These terms cover only a small part of what fathers and mothers have to worry about when things get “serious”. However, especially those who either work single-mindedly towards their first child or at least proceed according to the maxim “if it happens, it happens” often make a capital mistake: they only give serious thought to all the really weighty issues when not only the pregnancy test shows the famous streak, but also the gynecologist confirms the matter. Why is that? And what can you prepare sensibly already in the “planning phase” without appearing desperate or rash to friends and family? The following article provides the answers to all these questions.
Table of contents
1. Preparation Before Pregnancy?
If you don’t have a child, you rarely really know what kind of avalanche of work is heading your way. To clarify this a bit, the first chapter wants to show that there are really good reasons for a “pre-preparation”.
Nine Months Is Simply Too Little – And Unrealistic
Nine months, 40 weeks, three quarters of a year. That sounds like a lot of time to most people. But what many therefore also translate as “280 days of preparation time” is actually much shorter on many levels.
It starts with the fact that the 280 days thing is actually based on a rather squishy calculation. Namely, from the end of your last period to delivery. And even if every gynecologist between Helsinki and Cape Town uses this calculation method, it is still not more accurate – because there are simply at least two weeks between the period and fertilization, which are added: “pi by thumb”. It is therefore not surprising that researchers recently discovered that the average duration of pregnancy is only 268 days, which is almost two weeks less than is commonly believed.
But even these days are very rare. Pregnancy tests are only reliable two weeks after ovulation. And for most women, the suspicion that “something is wrong” only arises when the next period fails to arrive – which is again around two weeks less.
Of course, one could now point out the average waiting time for an appointment with the gynecologist, which ensures that the preparation time is shortened again because very few trust the pregnancy test alone and do not prepare anything until the gynecologist confirms the situation. Not to forget the “perplexity and joy time”, during which the prospective first-time parents are in a state of shock (positive or negative), and again do not really get anything together for a few days.
Even if it is a completely normal pregnancy and the child does not decide to meet its parents a few days or even weeks earlier, in reality, there are at most seven real months of preparation time – from which countless days are lost. Be it for check-ups, Sundays and holidays, “mommy-doesn’t-feel-good” days, or other “downtime”, especially in the last weeks of pregnancy.
And these seven months are true, as most parents will confirm, very little if they are still loaded with normal work and other things. So there are very good reasons to simply outsource some of the preparations.
When Can You Start Preparing?
The short answer: from now, immediately. The more detailed (and serious) one: From the moment both partners agree “we want a child”. Whether they approach this in the classic “competitive sport” way, where every fertile day is used to the best possible advantage, or in the laissez-faire way, where sex life simply continues as normal, just without contraception, is of secondary importance.
The trick is to accept that sooner or later you will have offspring. And once this decision is made, no matter how long the following phase will last, it is perfectly legitimate to focus on various preparations. Of course, only what really works even without an existing child – anyone who goes to the boss right now and says “I’m going to apply for parental leave at some point in the next few years” will at best earn a bemused, head-shaking smile.
2. The Simple Preparatory Work
There are plenty of reasons. But no one likes to jump into the deep end. For now, therefore, it is enough to deal with preparations that are little more than an exchange between dad and mom-to-be.
The Name Of The Child
You don’t have to invoke the age-old movie cliché of the new father who, in his joyful confusion, makes a capital error in entering the name on the birth certificate to understand the point of this preparatory work. In fact, it’s even the easiest job. In most serious relationships, at some point there comes a moment when you ask your partner something like “what would you name a child?”. But what is still banter in such cases should be elevated to a serious level with a firm desire to have a child. But how do you find a child’s name? Quite simply: by husband and wife searching separately for something suitable for both girls and boys and entering ten or twenty of the names they find most attractive in a list.
Once this is done, the names are compared and sorted out. If the result is a boy’s name and a girl’s name that both can agree on, this chapter is over. If not, the round is restarted as many times as it takes to reach an agreement.
Getting To Grips With The Topic Of Children
In most cases, the first child turns a previous relationship with all its well-worn and pleasant realities upside down. But once the time has come for the mummy belly to become rounder every day, the sober theory is over and the clock starts ticking.
That’s why you can start looking at the huge theoretical knowledge base that will help you become a parent. That is, one procures oneself books, rummages in Internet forums (naturally also with vaterfreuden.de) and reads itself into all the things between A such as Amniozentese to Z such as twin pregnancy. Some of it will only fall into the category of “good to know but not really relevant”, but other things will seriously help you not to act so mindlessly in the first days and weeks after the birth, as less carefully prepared parents often do.
Choosing A Hospital/Midwife
Depending on where you live, you have an almost unmanageable choice of potential places and people to deliver your offspring. Parents-to-be who live in urban centers should therefore at least start narrowing down their choices now. There are several ways to do this:
- Google search “residence+midwife/obstetrics” for a general overview.
- Exchange with friends, relatives, colleagues who already gave birth in the region.
- Find information about the types of births that are eligible and match where they are offered.
- Visits to potential clinics.
If the latter seems strange to you as a “non-pregnant” woman, you can help yourself with a white lie: Simply go to a hospital that seems appropriate, tell them you’re at the beginning of your pregnancy and just want to find out about that facility.
The Parenting Style
This point is somewhat similar to a battle plan – and with these, the rule has applied in the military since time immemorial that no plan, no matter how good, survives the first contact with the enemy. Applied to prospective parents, this means that you can calmly get an overview of the different parenting styles and also commit yourself.
However, this only serves to stabilize one’s knowledge framework. In reality, this “battle plan” will change radically with the birth of the child and its first weeks of life. Does Dad now plan to go the authoritarian route? Yes, he usually plans to do so until his little daughter consciously looks at him and smiles for the first time.
The Tangible Preparation Work
The work so far has all been something that can be done comfortably after work, pleasantly noncommittal. Now, however, come things where two people have to be really sure “we want a child” because, among other things, money is spent in the process.
There is a gap in the German banking reality: On the one hand, financial institutions are not supposed to view pregnancy as an illness, which they use as an excuse to give you worse terms. On the other hand, however, once they have a woman with a baby bump sitting in front of them, most clerks will do just that, up to and including refusing a loan.
This is not a lapidary decision that partners should simply dismiss, because the topic of money modalities of prospective parents looking for a loan is a rather complex subject area and, moreover, is often handled in a decidedly sober manner on the bank side. A pregnant woman will be absent as an employee for a certain period of time, ergo there are worse credit conditions for the family. Behind this is quite a simple risk management on the part of the bank. Nevertheless, a few tips can help you make the right decision here.
Especially under the premise that the preparation for a baby including furnishings can easily devour several thousand euros, it is therefore absolutely probated to get a possible loan already now. Alternatively, if you don’t want to use the money to make subsequent purchases, you can invest it in the long term, for example in the form of a fixed-term deposit account. This also has the advantage that, once the child is born, the amortization phase may already be over – and you will then be able to be really happy about these extra euros.
House Hunting And Moving
If dad and mom now live in a small two-room apartment, it is clear that there is not enough space to raise a child. Especially when you consider how tricky the current rental situation in Germany is, it is therefore not only sensible but really responsible to look for a new apartment early on – also because you normally have a three-month notice period as a tenant (we remember the maximum of seven months of real pregnancy preparation time). In addition, there is also the fact that families or at least partners with a baby bump are often discriminated against by landlords – despite extensive anti-discrimination laws
But childless couples, preferably both of them working, are completely unsuspicious for most landlords – especially if you don’t even bring up the subject of children, but simply want more space. And then you should also consider that a move is stressful enough without a baby bump and hormone levels in turmoil.
Furnishing The Nursery
Every furniture store between Flensburg and Berchtesgaden has a baby furnishing corner. In addition, there are countless specialty stores that also deal only with children’s rooms. So it’s fair to say that prospective parents are spoiled for choice when it comes to furnishings.
And this choice is also one of those things that are simply incomparably more relaxed when you neither have a due date nor are plagued by the typical pregnancy niggles. You can think about the design in peace of mind, you can rummage through catalogs and stroll through the stores – and even if it takes months to agree, you still have plenty of time to buy and assemble all the beautiful (and expensive) things between the changing unit and the diaper cabinet.
The only downside, however, which is also shared with parents who don’t want to know the gender until the baby is born, is being forced to be a little gender-neutral when it comes to decor. Whereby this is hardly a problem today, because the classic division “blue for boys, pink for girls” is disappearing more and more anyway.
And: As long as mom is not really pregnant yet, you can also cover the furniture with foil or, in the case of mattresses and underpads, leave them wrapped up and use the room for other purposes, for example with mobile clothes racks and the like.
Off To The Doc
The situation with doctors in Germany is very similar to the situation with apartments: There is a shortage of specialists in particular; appointments are not infrequently made half a year in advance. In addition, it is a fact that when women are pregnant, some procedures and medications are simply forbidden or only allowed in emergencies because they would put too much strain on the fetus.
Mothers-to-be who have been postponing dental treatment for a long time should therefore do it now – also because the necessary X-rays are something that should not be done during pregnancy. The same applies to all other procedures that require more than a local anesthetic and/or introduce any substances into the body, be it only tattoo colors. This also includes any vaccinations that you would like to catch up on or refresh.
Of course, this only applies to procedures that are foreseeable. Nevertheless, you should take the opportunity now – because not always, but often enough, women get pregnant much faster after they stop taking the pill than their friends and internet forums would suggest.
Follow Through With Long-distance And Love Trips
There are things that become difficult to impossible at the latest with a baby bump and even more so with a newborn. Among them, for example, the trip that dad and mom have always postponed into the indefinite future. Romantic vacation on Bora Bora? That will be far less romantic if the lovemaking sessions are interrupted by full diapers or an empty baby bump.
Moreover, flying during pregnancy is regulated quite extensively. With the vast majority of airlines, nothing works after the 32nd week of pregnancy. The risk is too great that, due to the stress and cramped conditions on board, an unborn child at an altitude of twelve kilometers will make the decision “I’m going to take a look at that now”. In addition, flights also expose the child to radiation – not unlike X-rays. Officially harmless, but exposure remains exposure.
Also, some countries don’t like it very much when (very) pregnant women want to enter the country. Prime example: the USA. There, children born within the borders automatically have American citizenship. South and Central American mothers in particular often take advantage of this to give their children a better start in life. They are referred to as “anchor babies”- and that is why the Americans often cause problems for pregnant women entering the country – even if they come from Germany. However, the Americans are not the only ones who do not like to let pregnant women into the country. Singapore, for example, requires a so-called “social visit pass” from the sixth month of pregnancy. This means that a woman can only enter the country if she wants to visit someone there.
Therefore, if dad and mom have always planned a trip that will only be really good as a couple, they should go for it now – also for the reason that a child conceived on such a love vacation is probably the most beautiful souvenir there is.
There are enough things to prepare during pregnancy. And even if you only do the things that are really merely possible with a certificate from the gynecologist, that is already a lot of work for the few months that remain between the test and the birth. If you really plan to go through life as a threesome, you should therefore try to outsource as much as possible and do it beforehand. After all, pregnancy, as beautiful as many parents find it, brings enough stress as it is, without having to squeeze through furniture stores after work or mourn the trip you’ve always put off.
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