5 Conversations To Have With Your Partner Before You Have Your Baby
Communication is key to any relationship, and if you are anything like me, all your communication skills (at least your diplomatic ones) will be temporarily removed during childbirth. I was tired. And hormonal. And had laser focus on being a new mother, putting most every other important thing in my life on the backburner. Like, the waaaaay back burner. I’m three months postpartum and am starting to see flickers of being able to once again use my big girl words. Until now, I attribute all success with my partner and our virgin parenting to the conversations we had before our baby arrived.
One thing is certain, you can plan until your planner falls apart, but you never truly know how things will go until your baby arrives. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t set goals for how you will feed your child. Maybe you’ve always wanted to breastfeed? Or maybe that’s not an option for you? Either way, discuss your goals with your partner in advance. If you exclusively breastfeed, this may prevent him or her from being able to assist with feedings. Does this bother them? Will they feel left out? If so, work out a solution before your baby arrives. Having this debate to the music of a hungry, crying newborn is probably not the most effective time.
You never realize how important sleep is until you don’t get any. Sleep deprivation will make the most sane person lose their marbles, so discuss how you intend to handle overnight newborn care.
Exclusive breastfeeders may not be able to elicit overnight help with feedings, but that doesn’t mean you have to go it alone. Your partner can help by retrieving the baby for you. He can do middle of the night diaper changes and even rock him back to sleep once his midnight snack concludes.
If your baby takes a bottle, one of you could take all the night shifts, or you could outline a time frame. For example, all feeding that take place before 3:00 a.m. might be your responsibility and feedings from 3:00 a.m. to 7:00 a.m. would be your partner’s. No matter the method, create a game plan. Trust me, the conversation will be far more civilized if you have it before 2:30 in the morning.
Where will your baby sleep during those first few weeks? What about the first year? Whether it be a family bed, a bassinet, a crib, or basket, or whether it be in your room, the nursery, or hallway, it is important to be on the same page with your partner. Maybe you plan to co-sleep for the first year, or share your bedroom for a few months, or maybe you start off with your little one in the crib? Regardless, put together a loose plan. If you intend to transition your baby’s original sleeping conditions after a few months, discuss this with your partner so you have support when it comes time to make the change.
Nothing brings about company quite like having a new bundle of joy in your home! Do you prefer a few weeks alone with your baby, or would you like help from a trusted friend or family member? Do you want to show off your baby to visitors, or would you prefer to keep things low key? Communicate your wishes to your partner, and make sure his or her intentions match your own. If not, develop a compromise before. Your partner can help relay your wishes to friends and family in advance, taking one less thing off your plate.
As much as you wish you could bask in the glow of being a new mother, normal life inevitably happens. Your dishes will pile up more than ever before with baby bottles and breast pump parts. Your trash will be full of wipes and diapers and paper plates (if you are trying to offset your dirty dishes), and your laundry will double overnight with burp rags and the onesies your baby’s diaper didn’t protect. Put a temporary survival plan in place. If you are lucky enough to have willing houseguests, they will take some of this burden off your plate, but if not, it is up to you and your partner to keep things afloat. Let him or her choose their chore(s). Maybe they tackle trash and dishes and you take on laundry and walking the dog?
Whatever your “plan”, it is meant to be broken, tweaked, and adjusted. Don’t panic if things don’t go the way you imagined. Just be sure to discuss these potential communication killers with your partner in advance to hopefully avoid a sleep deprived, hormonal, new mom meltdown.
Cheers to your growing family!