I got annoyed with people telling me how much of an adjustment having a baby is before the birth of my little one, but it’s true. But to feel like you are supported in your relationship, for your family unit to feel strong and cohesive, and for family life to run smoothly, you and your partner need to get on the same page because there are lots of things to consider before having a baby, or potential parenting questions to ask your partner before your little one arrives.1
Things To Consider Before Having a Baby
It’s critical to understand that differences in your relationship with your partner and between your and your partner’s morals, values, and beliefs are normal. It’s not the differences that might cause issues down the track; it’s how you deal with and negotiate a way forward together that will make the difference. Reconciling differences is a great way to improve your relationship because you can practice empathy and respect and hone your communication skills.2,3
Couples often don’t consider some things before having a baby, sometimes because it doesn’t occur to them. This can be because our values and beliefs are instinctive and automatic, so we don’t always realize others feel or think differently than us until a situation and potential conflict arises. Having respectful and honest discussions before your baby is born will help you reach compromises that you are both comfortable with long before they can become an issue.
Remember, there is no right or wrong answer to parenting questions to ask your partner, and you don’t have to come up with a solution immediately. You can table it for another conversation once you have had a chance to reflect on why you feel the way you do. Just don’t ignore it or sweep it under the rug.
14 Parenting Questions To Ask Before Having a Baby
So, what are some things to consider, and what parenting questions should you ask before having a baby that can help you and your partner get on the same page? Here are some suggestions:
1. Who Do You Want at the Hospital and Birth?
Do you want your mom, sibling, or close friend holding your hand and supporting you alongside your partner in the labor and delivery room? Does your partner expect their parents to get a look in? Do not leave this discussion to the day of the birth, as you will be distracted to advocate for yourself and your wishes. Consider your preference and why you would like this; can you or do you want to budge on this in any way? Although there is only one birthing partner, it’s essential that you both feel included in this conversation.
2. What Will Your Birth Plan Be?
Are you all for home birth, but your partner thinks a hospital is the best place to give birth? How about pain medication or expectations of how your partner will support you during labor? Create a birth plan together, and not only to reduce stress on the day, because let me tell you, those contractions are probably going to stop you from thinking logically, and your partner will most likely need to advocate for you. But if something critical comes up, you and your partner should have this conversation beforehand to make quick decisions.
3. How and When Will You Announce Your Baby’s Arrival?
Before your partner posts some sweaty action shots of the birth on social media or to their family Whatsapp group to announce the arrival of your precious bundle, make sure you negotiate when you announce the arrival of your little one and how. One of the parenting questions to ask before having a baby is will you put it on social media? Will it be a call to close relatives and friends? Will you announce their arrival formally?
4. How Will You Use Social Media?
On the topic of social media, it’s not just the announcement of the baby’s arrival. You need to consider or ask parenting questions to ask your partner whether your baby will have any online presence. Will you share photos of them along with updates? Or will you have a social media blackout? This is also an excellent conversation with friends and family who might get a little trigger-happy and want to share images or updates.
5. Will You Have Visitors at the Hospital?
Explore whether you want people coming to the hospital and who makes the cut. Ensure that you discuss this in advance so people aren’t put off if they don’t get an invite or that you aren’t surprised by your partner’s great-aunt Mildred making an unexpected visit while you’re grappling with the trigonometry and calculus that’s sometimes required to get your newborn to latch to the breast or bottle.
6. Will You Breastfeed or Use Formula?
This one could be a tricky conversation and will have much to do with the breastfeeding parent’s ability to feed, which their anatomy or desire could influence. Even though the other partner might not be breastfeeding, it’s essential to consider the conversation to know you will be supported. It’s also a time to bond, and your partner might want to know how they can contribute or get involved in other ways to ensure they don’t miss out on early bonding experiences.4
7. Will You Vaccinate Your Child?
If the Covid pandemic taught us anything, it’s that the vaccination debate is far from over. This is also among the parenting questions to ask your partner before having a baby. Find reputable resources to explore the debate if you and your partner have different opinions.
8. What Will You Name Your Child?
Do you have a special, unique, or traditional name in mind for your baby? Perhaps there is a family name passed through the generations that you want to consider. Whatever it is, you don’t necessarily need to decide your little one’s name in advance but chat with your partner about themes or styles of names you want to consider.
9. Will You Use Disposable or Cloth Diapers?
You might be eco-conscious or all about convenience. Perhaps you want to watch your costs or have a particular preference for cloth diapers versus disposable diapers. Either way, have a conversation with your partner. Also, explore how you will share the division of dirty diapers and the cleaning and purchasing of diaper supplies. Will you divide and conquer, or will someone be solely responsible for this stinky duty?
10. Will Religion Have a Role In Your Family’s Life?
This one might be a no-brainer, but perhaps you and your partner have different ideas about religion. While it’s easier to navigate when you are responsible for your ideologies and can attend or engage in religious practices without your partner, you might clash when raising your child. Will they be introduced to religion from the get-go? If you follow a religion, how strictly will you practice it, and how often will you attend meetings and services? Will your child attend a specific religious school or classes? There are many things to consider here, and it can be an emotional conversation for many people. Make sure you have this discussion in advance of your little one’s arrival.
11. What Will the Division of Caregiving Tasks Look Like?
Before you have your baby, figuring out who will be the primary caregiver or how you will divide parenting tasks is crucial. Some parenting questions to ask include: Who will get up at night and resettle or feed? Will one or both of you return to work post-birth? You might also need to rethink other household duties and who the responsibility will fall to about cooking, cleaning, and attending appointments. Having a baby can change a couple’s dynamic, and you might each have ideas of parenting roles. This can cause tension if there are subconscious expectations of who will be doing what after the baby arrives. Ensure you also account for the “hidden” tasks such as planning or the mental strain of juggling information about your child, like knowing when music practice is or when they have a friend’s birthday party coming up.
12. What Parenting Style and Discipline Will You Follow?
This is another sensitive or emotional topic to consider before having a baby. We tend to copy what we know or have seen, replicating our parents’ parenting style, or we consciously want to offer our kids something different than we experienced. You want to ensure you discuss this with your partner. Talk about how you will raise your kids, the non-negotiable rules or expectations, how you will manage discipline, etc., so you are on the same page and can present a consistently united front to your child.5
13. What Will Sex and Intimacy Be After Birth?
Being pregnant and giving birth can take a significant toll on your body. While it might seem like the furthest thing from your mind, at some point, the topic of sex post-birth will come up. Maintaining some physical intimacy is essential in your relationship, but it should also consider how you feel after labor. You and your partner may also need to consider the toll of sleep disturbance, exhaustion, and the possibility of being touched out after a day of feeding, rocking, and cuddling. You may need to negotiate other ways to be intimate and show affection. Ensure you have an open conversation about supporting each other through this transition period.
14. And What About Getting a Break?
Babies take up a lot of time, physically and mentally. Not only is there a lot to do all day (who knew babies were so needy!), but you may also find yourself constantly thinking about or planning things related to your child. Many parents who stay at home also feel like they don’t get to escape or take a break from all things baby and may feel resentful if their partner leaves home for work or other activities. Among the parenting questions to ask your partner before having a baby should be what you need as a person, not just what’s expected of you in this new parenting role. Also, support each other to ensure you get the time to take a break or have some downtime and self-care.
Remember to keep the conversation going and be honest about what you are feeling, what you need, and what to consider before having a baby. Openness about what’s going on gives you a chance to explore your and your partner’s needs and find a way forward together. Parenting is tough, so if you notice either you or your partner struggling with this adjustment or can’t find a middle ground for some of these debates, it might be a good idea to seek out professional help.