When deciding on important life decisions, sometimes getting started is the most difficult part. To ease that first crucial step in family planning, here is a look at a few essential factors to consider.

1. Your relationship: Before adding a baby into the family mix, it’s worth evaluating how your relationship with your partner is. Are both of you able to communicate? Are you currently in a position of instability or turmoil? Do the two of you handle conflict well, or do issues get pushed under the rug?  While no parent is perfect, it is vital to provide your child with a positive and stable place to call home.

start a family

Consider the demands and obstacles of caring for a child together.

Remember that adding a child to the family will increase, not decrease, your stress levels. That’s why both of you should take time and invest in developing the proper skills for healthy interaction. Prepare to start working toward a happy and secure partnership long before a child comes into play.

2. Your physical health: The health of every partner plays an enormous role in fertility, and most importantly, pregnancy outcomes.

It’s a good idea to assess your health and wellness before trying to conceive.

Are you in danger of any diseases, and if so, could you get tested? When was the last time you had a blood test, and what were the results? Are you currently at a healthy weight? Since fertility tends to decrease with age, there are some downsides to delaying pregnancy too long. If you want to start a family, you will want to schedule an appointment with the gynecologist to ensure you are physically healthy.

3. Your careers: The truth is, having a baby will bring along new challenges, and will most likely impact your professional and personal goals.

Some partners choose to postpone pregnancy until they are settled in their career paths.

Before trying to conceive, ask yourself if there are any items or accomplishments that you wish to achieve before kids come along: night school, traveling to a specific destination, getting that promotion/job, making a particular income, etc. Reach your goals prior and, you won’t reminisce with regret at the pre-kid day.

4. Your finances: Having a family costs money. Firstly, you will be responsible for paying that whopping hospital bill for delivery. (On the low end, expect to pay several thousand dollars for a traditional vaginal delivery; on the high end, delivery can cost nearly $37,000 per child or double that for a C-section requiring special care.) In 2015, a middle-class, two-child marriage spent $12,980 annually per child on average. As children age, you will face rising expenses for school, food, extracurricular activities, transportation, and sports. Are you able to handle these costs once you start a family? Could you begin saving more now?

5. Your location and support system: Where you live — and who lives near you — can play an important role in raising your child. Some couples state that having close relatives and/or friends nearby is a game-changer in how difficult parenting is, especially during the toddler years.

Do you have someone who can provide advice, some form of help, or even babysit?

What does your neighborhood have to offer? Are there good schools, parks, or libraries nearby? Is the community family-friendly? Are you worried about crime? These questions can influence your decisions as you plan to start a family.

6. Your expectations: Lastly, what expectations do you and your partner have about raising children?

start a family

Discuss what type of parents you would like to be.

Give some thought to areas where you differ and where you agree. How will you divide roles and tasks? Will you be able to adapt to lifestyle changes that come with having children?  The more you discuss you expectations and thoughts, the more confident you’ll feel as a parent.

As evidenced by this list, there is much to consider when planning for a family. When discussing these key issues with your partner, you may gain some clarity on whether now is the right time to start a family. For more information, the infographic below is a great resource to look over. It provides a series of questions to ask yourself and your partner. Check it out to continue your research.