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Are you ready to have a baby?

They say you don’t know what love is until you meet your baby for the first time. But are you and your partner really prepared to handle all the responsibilities that come with being a parent?

Couple with newborn baby

We asked the experts and real women to weigh in on the whole timing issue.

Consider your long-term goals

There’s never a good time to get married, move or have a baby, according to mom Sandy Arons, a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst based in Nashville, Tennessee. But despite this, many of us do these things more than once during our lives, she notes. “The key is planning. Think about your long-term goals and what you need to do to accomplish them. This should help in determining when the right time is to start your family.”

Get on the same page

While there will always be reasons to hold off on having kids (he wants to save up more money, you want to climb the career ladder, etc.), what’s most important is that you and your partner are both on the same page in terms of timing, points out mom Xandra O’Neill, a pregnancy health and wellness coach.

Is your relationship ready for a baby? >>

Wait until gender doesn’t matter

As a parent coach and devoted mom of three boys, Rachel Sklar recommends waiting until you want a child badly enough that gender doesn’t matter. “I knew it was time for number three when having a girl wasn’t as important as adding another child to our family,” she recounts. “It took three years, but it was definitely worth the wait!”

Pay attention to your biological clock

Sophia Martin and her husband had initially agreed to have a second child immediately following the birth of their son. Then reality set in and the challenges of becoming a parent were a lot more intense than Sophia had imagined. “I was less sure I could even handle a second one,” she says. “My husband didn’t really want to wait. He’s a great guy, and very supportive, so he didn’t pressure me; he just dropped little hints from time to time.”

After suffering a miscarriage and giving it some thought (it took her a year and a half to conceive her son), she’s ready to start trying again at age 40. “I have a 50 percent chance of miscarriage according to my obstetrician, so if we want to make this happen, I can’t be so picky about when.”

Make sure your relationship is babyproof

We’ve all seen parents who bicker and fight like dogs over the tiniest things, which obviously isn’t a great situation to bring a kid into. “Children, and babies especially, put tremendous pressure on relationships,” explains Sklar. “No couple is ever truly ready for one. However, there are a few things you can do to help ease the blow. Consider how you’ll manage the financial stress, lack of sleep, daily chores and division of responsibility,” she advises. “Stellar communication is paramount and your sexual connectedness should be secure. If you think having a baby will somehow fix a broken relationship with your partner, think again!”

Compare your motives

Reproductive decision making coach Laura Scott always asks couples contemplating a baby to compare their motives. Are they internal or external? “An example of an internal motive is, ‘I’m ready and excited about starting a family,'” she says. “An example of an external motive is, ‘People say I should have a child before I turn 30.'” Clearly, the latter isn’t a great reason to get pregnant.

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