The information below is not intended as medical advice and is only intended to offer points you may wish to consider, together with signposting for more support. Opinions are solely the views of the author and those involved in writing the article, not My Family Care or Bright Horizons. You should consult an appropriate professional if you would like to find out more about the medical aspects of fertility.
What to Consider When Planning for Fatherhood
Maybe the anticipation of having a newborn in your life fills you with excitement and you’re ready to start a family soon, or perhaps the thought of becoming a father feels like a long way away right now. Either way, it’s worth taking some time to consider how fatherhood might impact your life. Nothing can completely prepare you for parenthood, but some forward thought could help guide you to understanding how becoming a dad while juggling work, life and relationships might work out in reality, which will help you enjoy every moment of this significant journey into the great unknown when – and if – it comes.
It's easy to think that when the time is right, you’ll simply have a baby, and the rest will fall into place. While there is some truth to that idea, having a baby and starting a family will impact your life in many different ways – and those impacts may differ to those of your partner, so it’s wise to think ahead.
Here are 6 things to consider to help you plan…
When is The Right Time to Have “The Baby Conversation”?
For many couples, it can be surprisingly difficult to actually have this conversation. Whether you want to voice your uncertainty about wanting a child, or you’d like to discuss adoption as a possible option, or you’d like to start a family as soon as your partner is on board, it can feel scary to approach such a big conversation.
If you feel ready to have a family planning discussion, you can start by asking your partner when the best time would be to sit down and have an important conversation. Next, try to create a safe and non-judgemental space for honest communication by taking turns to speak and listen. Be sure to validate your partner’s thoughts and opinions – even if they’re different to your own. The important expectation to set is that you don’t have to leave the first conversation with a definitive answer. Instead, look at it as an opportunity to be heard, to listen, and to test the waters. Agree to re-visit the conversation at a later stage if you’re not quite on the same page.
How Will Having a Baby Affect Your Career?
Many companies offer a number of paternity leave options to their male employees such as full paternity leave, shared parental leave, or flexible working arrangements. To get an idea of what your company has on offer, you could arrange to discuss this with your line manager or HR department, or check in with a male colleague who’s already been through the process.
You’ll also want to consider where along your career path you’d like to be when starting a family. Would it make sense for you now, or is there a promotion or two (or even a career change) you’d like to make first? Another question worth asking yourself is how do you imagine yourself as a working father? Does your ideal working arrangement involve school runs or being home for dinner and bathtime?
How Will Having a Baby Affect Your Relationship (and Social Life)?
Becoming a father is a unique experience for every individual. For some, the changes to their relationships and social life can be big and for others, not so much. It’s difficult to try and anticipate the ways in which your romantic and social relationships might evolve, but it’s important to expect that to some degree, they will. Some changes might include skipping after-work drinks, or less spontaneous date nights with your partner. Having a child means that you’ll have to become extra intentional about setting time aside for both romance and bromance in between parenting.
How Will Fatherhood Affect Your Work-Life Balance?
Getting a handle on work-life balance is tricky as it is, so introducing fatherhood into the mix can up the ante. It’s important to note that there are millions of men who manage just fine, but it’s still a topic worth your consideration. It can help to think about where and how you can compromise your working hours to accommodate for both personal and family time.
What Aspects of Childcare are Important to You and How Can You Plan For This?
When it comes to childcare, is your preference private, public or home school? How do you feel about early years education? Will you be interested in nursery and pre-school? Would you consider a nanny or in-house childcare? This will undoubtably fall under one of the many conversations you’ll have with your partner, but it’s good to have some ideas and opinions of your own beforehand.
When thinking about starting a family, fertility is a major factor. New research shows that age can be just as much a factor for men as it is with women when wanting to conceive. Considering your age and fertility health is an important component to incorporate in your planning process and timeline.
Fertility health involves focusing on your overall health. Eating a balanced diet, adding regular exercise to your routine, and lowering your alcohol intake are some of the main ways that you can positively impact your body’s ability to produce healthy sperm - both at an early age and later in life.
Whether you’re concerned or curious about your fertility, think about booking an appointment with your GP. They can assess your situation and discuss your concerns, as well as answer any questions you have. If necessary, they may refer you to a specialist.
When it comes to family planning, there is no one-size-fits all approach. How you navigate the process is entirely up to you and your partner (if applicable). However, it always helps to get a head start. Remember, there are plenty of resources available to help at every turn, from friends, family and colleagues to experts of all varieties.