This also applies if you’re currently pregnant and waiting on baby to arrive!
When you and your partner decide to start a family or grow your existing one, you start feeling all sorts of ways. Mostly giddy and excited, but also a little scared and unsure on what to really expect. Those feelings are totally normal! And it’s a good time to get used to feeling lots of emotions at once (a teaser of pregnancy hormones to come…).
Here are the two things we know for sure about having a baby 1) your life will change in a big way and 2) your plans will never go… according to plan. But that doesn’t mean you’re better off with a plan-free, no cares in the world approach!
That’s because there are some really important conversations to have with your partner before you conceive and it’s all about making sure you’re both on the same page and aware of how best to support each other. The health of your relationship now will have a lasting impact on your parental relationship as well as your own physical and emotional wellbeing down the line.
Talking about shared goals, potential issues, and future plans now will help make your journey into (or through) parenthood a little bit smoother and the health of your relationship a whole lot stronger. So, let’s get to it!
9 Things To Discuss With Your Partner Before You Conceive
We’ll start with some of the logistical stuff…
1. How are we going to parent?
It’s a broad question, but it’s important to start thinking about how you see coparenting working, how responsibilities will be split up, what values you want to raise your children with, what reward and discipline might look like. You don’t have to figure it all out now (it will definitely be something you learn as you go), but it’s good to start discussing what your expectations of parenthood are.
You may even consider taking a parenting class together! Studies have shown that couples who take parenting classes before baby becomes a reality feel more connected, better able to support one another, and even have more positive birth outcomes.
2. Who will take time off work when baby arrives?
Don’t avoid this question, assuming you know how your partner feels. Make sure to honestly share both of your opinions and expectations. Maybe you already know the answer — but you may also have very different ideas as to how things will work. Plans may change over time, and that’s OK, but being clear on where you both stand now is so critical to relationship health when baby does arrive.
Stigmas and stereotypes definitely exist in this space, but that doesn’t mean you have to follow status quo. A 2013 Pew Research Center survey found that while 51% of Americans think a child is better off with a mother at home than in the workplace, only 8% say that a child is better off with a stay-at-home father. But a 2015 study of 20 working moms, found that their children had positive relationships with both the mother and father when the father stayed at home in a caregiving position and the mother left the home to work — and positive father-child relationships are highly associated with child health and wellbeing in the longterm.
Ultimately, there is no gold standard when it comes to parenting, and you and your partner get to decide what is best for your family.
3. Are we financially ready for baby?
Following off the last question it’s just as important to discuss your financial situation as it relates to raising a child. Financial strain is one of the leading causes of relationships ending, and communication is absolutely key in this department.
It’s important to look at how your monthly budget will change, deciding if and when you’ll start saving for baby’s future, how comfortable you are with finances right now, and how possible time off work will affect this. For more on how to prepare financially for a baby, check out this post.
Now onto conversations around the health of your relationship…
4. How do we see our relationship changing as our family grows?
If you’re trying to conceive now then chances are your relationship is in a pretty good spot. Enjoy that, revel in it, and carry it through each day! But it’s also a good idea to have open chats on how you both see things changing as you adjust to growing your family? What do “mom/mum” and “dad” mean to each of you? What makes you excited about how your relationship might change? What makes you scared? Share those thoughts with each other so you work towards the relationship you both want.
5. What turns you on?
Yes, that means what you think it means. This one is less of a sit-down conversation, and more of a lie-down one… if you catch our drift. Intimacy is the name of the game in the baby-making days of TTC. But when you’re trying for baby and really focused on making a baby, sexual disconnection can happen. When a romp in the sheets starts feeling more and more like a to-do list item, that’s when this conversation is good to bring up. Don’t be shy about asking each other what feels good, and then following suit — because making a baby should be fun!
But we also want to make sure you know that intimacy doesn’t always have to be physical intercourse. You may find your intimate relationship changes over time, especially as you bring children into your family and that’s OK too. As long as you keep talking about and stay connected with each other, that’s what matters.
6. What makes you feel loved?
This is really a question for any close relationship at any time as a healthy check in. We all feel loved and show love in different ways, and in a healthy relationship it’s about knowing yourself as much as you know your partner so you can make sure your needs and wants are met.
Personality tests like the Enneagram or Love Languages can help you both better understand what makes you feel understood, supported, and loved. And once you know that for yourself, you can communicate it to your partner.
And don’t forget, your personal health and wellbeing matters too — and it’s a good talk to have with each other to see where you both stand!
7. What are our personal goals?
If you’ve decided that you’re ready to have a baby, that is probably a shared goal you and your partner have. But what about your goals as an individual? Those don’t go away just because you decide to grow your family. Now is great time to clearly outline what your personal goals are and share them with each other. This can help you outline a plan for how to support each other on reaching those goals while you become parents together.
8. Are we as healthy as we can be? Do we have habits that need to change?
This is a health accountability check-in. Your health and your partner’s health right now can have lasting impacts on baby’s health development in the womb and in later life, so take a close look at your habits and identify what areas you can optimize your health on.
Look at your emotional, mental, and physical health, and set some goals together! Maybe that’s dietary changes, or getting more active, or learning to better manage chronic stress. Of course, our Trying To Conceive program on the Baby2Body app will help you do just that! wink wink.
9. What options do we want to consider if we have a hard time getting pregnant?
Speaking of health and wellness this is also an important conversation to have, just in case. Of course the hope is you never have to come to action on such a decision, but infertility issues are shown to affect between 10-15% of couples. A broad conversation with your partner on whether you’d consider IVF, IUI, surrogacy, or adoption can help you be more prepared, confident, and decisive if your path to parenthood goes down this road.
What conversations do you wish you had with your partner before baby? Are there any topics you find difficult to discuss with your partner as it relates to fertility, pregnancy and parenthood? We’d love for you to share in the comments below so we can better support you at this incredible time in your life.