When you’re pregnant with your first baby, there is a lot of time spent discussing the excitement of it all. Imagining what they’ll be like, talking about baby names, plans for the nursery etc. But this is also the time to have some really important conversations! There are several topics you don’t want to leave for when the baby is actually here (or when you’re in labor!).
I polled my husband, curious to see what he would say and without hesitation his first response was…finances! Now hopefully this isn’t the first time you and your partner are talking finances. But what I mean here is specifically discussing finances that relate to your baby. Making sure you know what insurance will cover for the birth and having a plan to pay for what isn’t covered. What is the budget you’d like to set for childcare (nanny/daycare/babysitters) if you’ll be using any. Go ahead and look at the average cost of diapers/wipes/formula per month to get an idea of how that might affect your monthly spending. Do you want to set up any savings accounts for your little one? Babies are expensive, so being prepared for those expenses up front is huge!
2. The Birth
This may seem obvious but you’ll want to spend some time discussing the birth as a couple before the big day arrives. Make sure your partner is familiar and comfortable with your birth plan. If they’re not familiar with the process of labor/birth, having time to walk through what it might look like, the different decisions and choices you’ll have during the process will be very helpful. Don’t just expect your partner to know what to do when you’re in labor! Be specific about your goals and choices and be on the same page. Also know that they’re are several medical decisions to be made at the hospital (vitamin K, eye drops, hep b, circumcision) so go ahead and make a plan for those.
3. The Newborn Stage
The newborn stage can be tough and I think it’s important to be on the same page about expectations for this “4th trimester.” Will you be splitting nights or is mom taking all night wakes? What about diaper changes, making bottles, cleaning pump parts etc. Making a plan ahead of time can keep resentment from forming. Who will be visiting after the birth and how long will they stay? No one wants a surprise visit from an unexpected family member days after birth! This is also a good time to discuss plans for going back to work. Will either partner stay at home full time or will both work? What are the time frames for maternity and paternity leaves? If there is no paternity leave for your partner, will they take time off when the baby is born?
4. Division of Labor
Now that you’ve considered the details of how you’ll handle the baby duties you also want to consider the general division of labor in your home. This will be extremely important to determine for the initial postpartum period but also beyond as well. Think about all of the household jobs that need doing on a regular basis and figure out who will tackle them when baby arrives either temporarily or permanently. This might be things like laundry, groceries, making meals, dishes, household cleaning chores, feeding/caring for pets etc. Consider these tasks through the lens of the laundry list of postpartum “symptoms”- newborn exhaustion, pain/discomfort, the healing of a dinner plate sized internal wound, potential stitches, possible lifting restrictions due to a C-section.
5. Parenting Style
This is certainly not a one time conversation and will undoubtedly evolve as you actually become parents and begin making choices as a family. But I think it’s still important to talk about beforehand. How were you each raised and how do you hope to raise your children? How will you handle discipline? What kind of routines, structures and family rhythms are important to you? Are there specific ways you hope to handle sleep, feeding, potty training, schooling, holidays etc. These things can certainly change but sharing your thoughts now can help lay the foundation and limit any huge surprises about how you or your partner feels about a “hot topic” of parenting.