Oh baby! Babies bring so much joy, noise, and love into a household. So much so, that some people decide to have several! Along with all the goodness, babies bring a lot of added responsibility. Responsibility that doesn’t just stop with the first year of life, but continues to build as your children get older. With my first baby, there was so many things my husband and I did not know. We figured things out along the way, but there were tons of bumps as we realized that we had different opinions or ideas about a ton of things when it came to our baby. In hindsight, there are tons of questions to ask before having a baby that would have alleviated some of our post baby disagreements. Now that we are on baby three, some of these pop up occasionally but we are much better prepared. These are the 5 questions to ask before having a baby that can make for a little less tension amidst all the baby snuggles!
How will this affect our relationship?
This is one of the best questions to ask before having a baby! Babies create waves of change in all aspects of your life. LITERALLY IN ALL ASPECTS. However, we know from research and experience that having a baby affects the mother greater than her partner in many ways. I can say from experience that while having kids altered the entire universe for both my husband and I, his world was rocked far less than mine. After the newborn chaos dies down, he generally returns to his pre-baby hobbies and activities, while I struggled immensely to do so. Your marriage may be incredible when all your time is devoted to each other, but what will things look like when date nights are fewer and far between or intimacy issues arise after birth? Marriages can weather a lot, but being prepared for the challenges ahead of time can make for a smoother transition.
How often will we have date nights, and what will that look like?
What will we do to ensure we each have time for ourselves?
How will we communicate when child-related disagreements pop up?
Marriage is hard enough without added stressors, so be prepared in ways to make sure you have a strong foundation.
What if conceiving children ends up being a challenge for us?
Before having a baby, it is important ask the question of what happens in the event conceiving a baby is difficult. Infertility and loss is very common, and there are many hurdles to face on the path from conception to birth. We talked a lot about what we would plan for our family along the way.
Would we be open to medication and intervention such as IVF if we needed to?
Could we afford to take that approach?
Would we be open to adoption and if so, what would our ideal adoption journey look like?
While no one expects some of these things at the beginning, it is important to be on a similar page around what the path to parenthood could look like.
What will we do if the unexpected arises?
Ugh the tough questions. None of the tough questions are comfortable but in the event the unexpected arises for you, you will be glad that you asked the questions before having a baby. What would happen in the event a pregnancy screen comes back with an abnormality? What would happen in the event of a life-threatening pregnancy? Who will be the guardians of our children in the event something happens to us? There are tons of “what if” questions you may never know the answer to, but I am really glad I asked my husband these questions before starting our journey so that I knew his thoughts and we could make informed decisions together.
How many children do you envision having if we are able?
This is one of the questions my husband and I have definitely struggled with together on our journey to parenthood. I always wanted a large-ish family and when I asked my husband his thoughts early on in our relationship he always said, “At least 2, and then we can talk about it.” Deciding to have a third baby was a major decision for us, and we are once again at odds about adding to our family. While you don’t have to have this question nailed down before having a baby, knowing your partner’s perspective can help, especially when baby fever hits one of you (speaking for a friend, AKA myself.)
What is your approach to discipline?
Newborn’s are so squishy and yummy, but they quickly grow into wild toddlers with big feelings and big mouths. Toddlers need lots of nurturing, while also needing boundaries. A discipline approach is one of many parenting styles that will come up over the years and it often starts around baby’s first birthday when all the things start happening. When our daughter turned two and all the independence and boundary testing surfaced, we found out quickly that we had vastly different approaches to discipline. M
y husband was raised in a house with traditional approaches to discipline involving punishment and parents as an authority figure. My approach focuses more on communication, choices, and a gentle approach to coping with big feelings. We have reflected on our discipline approach too many times to count with the aid of podcasts, research, and books. While we are approaching a similar page, it has taken us countless hours to get to a place of semi-agreement and I wish we would have talked about this major topic before baby arrived.
What discipline approach do you plan to take?
Which behaviors are triggers for you?
What boundaries do we want to develop for our kids?
What will we do for childcare?
Childcare decisions can be so difficult and heart-wrenching. Deciding if one parent will stay home with the baby or whether you will need childcare if both parents work the same shift is challenging. We are both working parents which means daycare tours, nanny hunting, and crazy mornings. Choosing and handling childcare takes a partnership, as does dealing with sick days and other bumps in the road as they arise. It can also be difficult if one parent desires to stay home but they are unable to due to finances. Sometimes daycare waitlists are years long, so having this discussion prior to baby arriving is important.
How will we split parenting and household duties?
I swear each baby comes with 4x the amount of housework and tasks than you had before and parenting during the early stages is very high needs.
How will we handle the division of responsibility?
Which household tasks will each person tackle each week?
What can we offload?
What values or belief systems are most important to you for us to pass onto our baby?
If you have religious beliefs or specific family traditions you plan to pass onto your children, you will want to ensure your spouse is on board. It can be very confusing for kids when one parent believes strongly in something that the other does not, and it takes communication and partnership to ensure both parents perspectives are represented.
Will we attend a specific place of worship?
What holidays will we celebrate?
Which traditions from your childhood do you want to continue in our house?
What role will grandparents/in-laws play when it comes to our children?
Oh this one can be a doozy. Even if your relationship with your in-laws is stellar, grandchildren is a whole new ball game. Think about how involved you will want each set of grandparents and any boundaries or discussions you may need to have with them when it comes to your baby, Mu husband and I actively choose to raise our kids very differently than both of us were raised, and that means having some difficult conversations with grandparents. As the parents, it is up to you to decide how your kids will be raised and what influences they will have in their lives. Will your mother in law be coming and staying for 6 months after the baby is born or are you limiting visitors?
What hopes do you have for our parenting journey?
Lastly, connect with your partner over the goodness of parenting together! What are all the hopes and dreams you have for becoming parents together? Any special birth plan ideas? What type of parent do you want to be? What activities do you look forward to in the future with our kids?
The journey to parenthood is exhilarating while also challenging in many ways. Hopefully tackling some of these questions to ask before having a baby will make for a smoother start for your new family as it grows! What other questions did you ask before having your baby?
All the best,