Top things to discuss with your partner before conceiving

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Finances 

You need to discuss whether you have the financial means to have a baby, and if you both know what the obvious and hidden costs are of having a family. A good exercise would be to speak to someone who has had a baby recently; find out about costs of nappies, formula, clothes, medicines, a paediatrician and immunisation fees and baby socialisation class costs. Also remember to discuss financial implications of school fees as those bundles grow up faster than you realise, as do their expenses.

Roles and Responsibilities

It would be beneficial to discuss who will be doing what around the house. With added bodies in a household, the task of organising your lives may become more complex. After the baby is born (and especially when there are already one or two other small people milling around the house) it is likely that time will be precious and that each caregiver should know what he or she can do to help in running the house. You can talk about who is responsible for house maintenance, staff, pets, finances, vehicles and holidays.

Sleeping issues 

It would be ideal for both of you to discuss where you would like the new baby to sleep (in the cot in another room or in the double bed with the two of you). As long as you are both on the same page then it is less likely to become an issue in your relationship. You can also talk through who will get up for the baby at night. It may be difficult if you are getting up to breastfeed every few hours, but remember that you can also express and ask your partner to feed the baby from a bottle so that you can get some sleep too.

Breadwinning and caregiving 

Have the chat about what you as a mom would ideally like when raising your children. Find out what you partner would like for himself and what he may expect of you. Would you want to stay at home? Would you like to work (and from when)? Would your partner like to be the only breadwinner? Would your partner like you to stay at home and raise the children instead of work?

Your own childhood 

It is important to look back at your own childhood and to be aware of how you felt towards your own caregivers. Was your main caregiver around enough? Did you feel loved by her or him? It maybe a good exercise to reflect on what you liked and what you didn’t like about growing up. You can ask yourself what you felt towards your mom, dad, siblings, grandparents, nannies and cousins.

Then when you and your partner have reflected on these experiences you may want to share them and create an ideal scenario in your heads in terms of how you envision your children’s lives will be. You can discuss what aspects of your own childhoods are worth embracing so that your children can experience similar feelings and activities. You can also chat about what you really didn’t enjoy and can make a note to avoid such situations.

Regulation of your child's behaviour

In the same vein, look at how you and your partner experienced discipline when you were younger. Do you think your respective parents used techniques that were effective? Would you use similar or completely different strategies? You can then talk about how you would like to guide your children in the most ideal way together.

Support system

As a couple with a new person (or two) in the mix, it is likely that both of you will benefit from relying on a support structure: A system that will allow you to vent, to ask questions and to help you in taking care of the children.

Discuss your friendship circle and look into who will be there for you if you encounter problems. Also talk about the support you would like from a nanny and also from your inlaws. How would you both like your parents and each other’s parents to be involved?

Self care

It is crucial to understand and discuss self care with your partner. Both of you have to realise the impact that babies can have on your lives. In order to raise children in a happy, healthy environment you have to make sure that you’re just that. So plan babysitters once a week for date night so that you and your partner may connect and make sure that you as the primary caregiver feel rejuvenated by blocking out time to read, have coffee with a friend or whatever else may make you feel rested. There is no reason to feel guilty about spending some time, energy and money on yourselves. After all, you will still be the same people as before.

After the baby is born

Remember to have ongoing discussions regarding the above issues. If you are too rigid about what you “planned” before having the baby, you may run into trouble later. Sometimes things feel very different when the little bundle actually comes into the world and starts creating his or her own space in your lives. It is helpful to have a weekly chat and to talk about things as they happen. Remember to keep these conversations short when the youngsters are around and to elaborate on them when you’re alone.

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