9 Things You and Your Partner Need to Talk About Before Having a Baby
You and your spouse are totally on the same page when it comes to names (Amelia for a girl, Noah for a boy) and nursery decor (jungle-themed, obviously). Heck, you even created a killer labor playlist together (Beyoncé features heavily). But before you bring your mini home, you should make sure that you guys are in line with each other about some of the more practical stuff, too. Here, nine talks you definitely want to have with your spouse before you’re so sleep-deprived that having a coherent conversation is damn near impossible.
Division of labor deal-breakers
In an ideal world, diaper duties and bath time would be perfectly split. But honestly? You guys will figure it out as you go. Instead, take advantage of this quieter time to go over any major sticking points. Like, is your husband allergic to doing laundry and wants to trade it for, say, cooking dinner? Or maybe you’re super-overwhelmed by the prospect of pediatrician-finding, and will need him to take the lead. Be honest about these things now to avoid hurt feelings and confusion later. (And sorry, changing diapers doesn’t qualify.)
Even if you share the same beliefs, there may well be differences in how you want to practice your faith. And if you’re from two different backgrounds, then there will probably be even more to discuss. Top tip: Figure out what you want to do before involving the in-laws. (More on them later.)
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, the potential benefits of circumcision are not great enough to recommend it for all babies, but you or your spouse may have other ideas. Get on the same page before you enter the delivery room, and if you choose to go that route, decide who you want to do it—your OB, your pediatrician or a mohel.
Where you want to live long-term
You have dreams of raising a city-savvy kid who takes the subway and knows where to get the best pizza in town. Your spouse, however, grew up in the suburbs and imagines building treehouses and camping in the backyard. Again, you don’t need to decide anything immediately (and your opinions will probably change, anyway), but it’s worth discussing your hopes and dreams about habitation down the road, so nobody gets surprised.
Discuss if you both plan to go back to work, and if so, how you'll afford childcare. Many workplaces allow you to put as much as $5,000 into a flexible spending account, a tax-free benefit that can help offset the cost.
There are perks and perils of sharing a bed with your newborn, and you may not know where you stand until push comes to (sleepless) shove. But do a little reading in advance so that you both know the risks and benefits associated with co-sleeping. That way, when it does come up, you’re well-armed.
Don’t turn down your mother-in-law’s offer to come over to cook and clean after you bring the baby home. Do decide with your husband exactly how long she’s allowed to stay (one week, max). Same goes for all post-baby visitors—having a clear policy in place will make for significantly smoother sailing. (FWIW, we’re fans of the three-day rule.)
Look, between all the joy and laughter and love, you’re going to get frustrated (you’ve never done this before, remember?). And while some bickering is inevitable, it’s important to have the conversational tools handy pre-baby, so that you can deal with the stress in the most productive way possible. Talk with your partner about ways to communicate frustration without being accusatory. And here are a few things not to say to each other in the heat of the moment.
OK, so this one is going to take more than a quick chat over dinner. But here’s an exercise you can try that will help get to the heart of your family morals and beliefs: Each of you writes down three things you liked about your childhood (“we always ate breakfast together”) and three things you didn’t (“my parents never let me have a pet”). You’ll be surprised what this says about the things that are important to you (like quality time and responsibility, for example). Then compare notes and see what kind of discussion it sparks.