If you're planning on having a baby with your partner (whether you are or aren't pregnant yet), the two of you have got a lot of decisions to make. Becoming a parent is by far the toughest job any of us will ever have, and it's not something that should be taken lightly. Having a child will completely change your life, in ways that are wonderful and in ways that can be challenging. There are conversations that every couple should have before becoming parents, because parenthood can take so much out of you and put an inevitable strain on your relationship and require you to make informed decisions and, well, keeping an open line of communication will help you handle the aforementioned like bosses.
Your relationship with your partner will change after kids. There's really no avoiding it, and I'd argue that if it wasn't kids that change your relationship, it's time or certain life decisions or just you both evolving as individuals. That why it's so important for you to take the time to discuss some of the things no one likes to talk about when it in general, but especially when it comes to parenthood (i.e. money, sex, religion, etc) before you have kids with your partner. It's better to be prepared and on the relative same page before you're faced with a particular situation that will require you to make life-lasting decisions. That's not to say that you and/or your partner may change your minds or your beliefs won't evolve, because they most certainly will, but if you're ready and willing to talk about the following things, you'll be better prepared to handle the tough moments parenthood is sure to gift you with.
After all, there's a reason for the saying, "It takes a village to raise a child." That's because raising kids is a team sport. So, if your partner is a part of your team, it's probably a good idea if the two of you discuss the following 11 things before you take your own parental plunge.
No one wants to talk about money, but it's something that definitely needs to be discussed when you're in a relationship and especially when you're planning on procreating. Kids are far from free, and the older they get the more it costs to take care of them (trust me, I've got toddler boys who eat like NFL players). You've got to consider things like the cost of health insurance, child care (if you need or choose to use it), food, and diapers. It all adds up quite quickly, so if you're prepared for possible expenses ahead of time, you can hopefully avoid stressing over money after you've already had a baby and you're exhausted and frustrated and, well, not in a suitable state to have a productive conversation concerning finances.
To Vaccinate Or Not To Vaccinate
The vaccination debate is heated, on both sides of the aisle, so if you and your partner aren't on the same page ahead of time, that could be an issue. If this is something that the two of you don't agree on, you're going to really struggle when it comes time to decide if your kid will be given necessary vaccinations. It's a tough topic, but it's an important one, so do some research on vaccinations together, and try to find the middle ground.
Child Care And Whether Or Not You'll Need Or Want It
If you or your partner, or both, are planning on going back to work, you'll probably have to rely on some sort of child care. If you're lucky, you've got family members who are able and willing to help, but that's sort of like finding a four leaf clover in a field full of daisies. If you don't have family or friends to help, and are planning on working outside of the home, you're going to need some sort of child care. Child care is not cheap. In fact, many families can't afford child care at all. If you're one of the lucky ones who can, you're left with the touch decision of choosing exactly who is going to care for your child. Will you send them to a public daycare or hire a nanny or send them to an in-home daycare? Will you send them part-time or full-time, and how much will each cost you? This is a big one for new parents, but coming to a conclusion is a huge relief.
Will You Raise Your Child In A Certain Religion
Maybe you were raised in a certain church, but your partner has never stepped foot inside one. Maybe you're more of a spiritual person, but your partner is devout in their religious beliefs. If you and your partner have different religious views, you're going to want to discuss how you're going to raise your child. Whether that's choosing some middle ground and finding some sort of church or group that you both agree could work for your entire family, or just letting your child figure it out on their own as they grow older, it still needs to be discussed.
Breastfeed Or Bottle Feed
Whether you choose to breastfeed or bottle feed is completely up to you. It's a personal decision that you should make based on what you feel is best for you and your baby, but you will likely need (or at least want) the support of your partner, either way. There are things a partner can do to support breastfeeding and formula feeding, so whichever route you choose, you should have him or her on board with you.
How Many Kids You Want
What if you've always wanted a big family, but your partner is an advocate of being a one-and-done family? Although it's hard to really know how big you want your family to be until you've spent some time taking care of your first child, it's something that you may want to at least have an idea about, before you and your partner become parents.
How You're Going To Give Birth
You need as much support as you can get when you give birth. Figuring out a birth plan ahead of time will help, and having your partner on board with the way you choose to give birth is also important. If you're choosing a home birth, you're going to need to make a lot of preparations, which you can leave up to your partner. If you're choosing a hospital birth, you're still going to want your partner to understand what you are and are not comfortable with. Whether that's using an epidural or having a medication-free birth, or having an intimate birth with just your doctor, yourself and your partner, or allowing friends and family to accompany you, your partner can help keep things regulated on your big day.
Choosing a baby name is super easy for some couples, but for some, it's the most difficult decision they'll ever make (besides, you know, deciding to become a parent in the first place). Some people have their kid's name in mind before they even decide to become a parent, while others take their babies home and still don't have a name picked out. Compromise is key, so try not to diss every single suggestion your partner offers.
How You're Going To Share Responsibility
You and your partner need to agree ahead of time that you will not treat parenting like a competition, and that you will do your best to both participate equally. If one of you is working outside of the home, and the other is staying home to take care of your baby, understand that though you are contributing differently, you are still contributing equally. Don't keep tabs on who has changed the most dirty diapers, or gotten up the least sleep, or done the most feedings. You are on the same team, and you need to find ways that you can both contribute equally.
The "What Ifs"
What if something happens to one of you? What if one of you loses a job? What if you find out your baby has health issues? There are a zillion "what ifs" that could happen to you and your family. No one wants to talk about the "what if" scenarios in life, but having a plan ahead of any possible catastrophe will help your family get through a potential, difficult time. Whether that means preparing legal wills or getting life insurance or putting money in your savings every month, you need to do your best to prepare for the potential difficulties the future could hold.