At the risk of stating the obvious, having a baby with someone is kind of a big deal. As such, we suggest you dot the i’s and cross the t’s by having a sit-down with your spouse before you proceed. Here, a list of the most important questions to ask before having a baby, courtesy of clinical psychologist Dr. Bethany Cook.
28 Uncomfortable Questions You and Your Partner *Have* to Ask Each Other Before Having a Baby
1. How will we make time for our relationship?
First-time parents are mostly just winging it, but one thing you don’t want to figure out on the job is how to carve out time to connect with your spouse. After all, babies are so demanding that it’s easy to dismiss this as non-essential, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. To make sure your relationship doesn’t fall through the cracks, it’s a good idea to figure out how you’re going to pencil in time together once you become parents.
2. How will we ensure we both have the personal time we need to recharge?
See question #1. (Hint: Alone time is also essential.)
3. How well do we handle stress and conflict resolution as a couple?
If you’re at the point in your relationship where you’re considering having a child, there’s a good chance you and your S.O. have done your fair share of bickering and working it out. Still, an open and honest conversation about how each of you responds to stress, as well as what does and doesn’t work when there's a dispute to settle, can go a long way to avoiding screaming matches when it’s time to determine whose turn it is to change a poop-splosion.
4. How will we approach discipline?
There is more than one acceptable disciplinary style (and a couple of unacceptable styles, too) but they’re all considerably less effective when parents aren’t on the same page. Talk it out, compromise, blend your philosophies—just make sure you don’t find yourself attempting this for the first time when your kid has just transgressed.
5. What are some things you liked about the way you were raised and what would you like to do differently as a parent?
You can gain a lot of insight into your spouse’s parenting values by hearing them reflect on their own childhood—the good, the bad and the ugly.
6. What happens if I don’t get pregnant right away?
If you’ve been trying for a year and still haven’t conceived, there are plenty of options. The decision, though, is one that’s best discussed before the stressful and frustrating situation is upon you.
7. What religion (if any) will we teach our child?
Having different religious beliefs and practices doesn’t have to be a big thing between two adults—but when you’re raising a child together and deciding which holidays to celebrate and the extent to which you want faith involved in your family life, it’s a different story. Asking this question will either start a conversation that leads to compromise, or reveal that you’re both of the same mind on the subject.
8. Whose last name will the child have?
There are several reasons why the choice might not be so clear-cut, and it’s not the kind of debate you want to be having from a hospital bed with paperwork in front of you.
9. What type of boundaries will we set with extended family?
Sure, your MIL is great, but do you want her dropping by unannounced on day two while you’re trying to get a crying infant to latch onto your boob (and possibly fighting back tears yourself)? Boundaries involving immediate family members can be tricky, which is why it’s wise to agree upon them before the shit hits the fan.
10. Who will be the primary parent for the baby?
The term ‘primary parent,’ doesn’t just apply to the separated, divorced and consciously uncoupled, friends. Chances are one person is going to be carrying the mental load for the kid’s needs, planning ahead, scheduling appointments—and if it happens by default rather than discussion, it’s far more likely to be a source of resentment.
11. How will finances be dealt with?
Maybe you’re going from a two-income to a one-income household for a while, or perhaps you plan on ponying up for child care—whatever the case may be, having a child is likely going to require some adjustments to your budget.
12. What type of health insurance will we need?
(And how much will that family plan upgrade set you back?)
13. Will you use a family name?
You probably want to know if your wife is super attached to giving your baby the name of a second cousin twice-removed (and dearly departed).
14. How long will someone stay home with the baby?
Do either of you want to be a stay-at=-home parent for a spell? If so, can you make it work? What are your maternity and paternity leave options?
15. What will we do about childcare?
Your spouse cast his vote for grandma and you’re pulling for that charming Montessori daycare. No matter which route you take, you’ll need a childcare plan in place if the both of you intend to go back to work.
16. Who will be in charge of maintaining the house and yard?
Psst: It’s probably not the person recovering from labor and delivery.
17. Will the baby be breastfed or bottle fed?
It’s a very personal decision and parents can have differing opinions, so you might have to brace yourself for a debate. That said, ultimately the parent whose boobs would be doing the feeding gets to make the call, and the other partner should support this decision.
18. Will the baby be circumcised?
Religion, ethics and tradition (among other things) will influence how either parent feels about this post-birth procedure. Have this conversation ahead of time and, er, be prepared to hear your husband wax romantic about his own penis.
19. When will we allow visitors to the house to meet the baby?
We touched on this already (see question #9), but friends might be chomping at the bit, too.
20. Where do we stand on co-sleeping?
All conversations related to sleep should occur before both parties are sleep deprived.
21. Where do we want to prioritize our money?
Will you splurge on designer baby clothes and professional photography sessions or go with hand-me-downs and candid shots so you can get the best big ticket items? (think: stroller and nursery furniture set.)
22. What type of birth do you want to have?
Natural birth, doula, epidural…you’ve got options.
23. Where do you want to give birth?
You dream of a serene home birth and your spouse feels pretty far from calm about it. Best pick a location you both feel good about before you pop one out.
24. Who is allowed in the birthing room?
Your mom is hellbent on witnessing your crowning achievement (pun intended), but you prefer a more private birthing experience. No matter how you feel about who’s allowed in the birthing room, it will be a lot easier to break the news if your spouse is privy to your preference before external pressures start to mount.
25. Will we share the baby’s name before it's born?
Some couples can’t wait to spill the beans, others would rather wait until the naming is a fait accompli—you know, in case rude Aunt Rose responds with tactless snickering.
26. Do we find out the gender?
Gender reveal parties are passé, but parents still need to decide whether they want to know the sex of the baby before the big day.
27. What would we do if we learned the fetus had genetic differences?
It’s a heavy topic of conversation, to be sure, but it’s also not a situation you want to be blindsided by. Talk with your doctor about which tests you could and want to do, and what it would mean should they yield different outcomes.
28. What will the division of labor be?
One of the most common sources of conflict between new parents is when one party feels they’re doing more than the other. Avoid a bitter, scorekeeping scenario by delegating household duties in a way everyone finds fair before the baby is born.