Doesn’t time fly? It probably only seems like just a few months ago that you and your partner both sat down and decided you wanted to have a baby.
Now your little one is on its way and the decision-making is far from over. There are plenty of questions you still need to agree on as a couple and it’s best to do it now, partly because you won’t have time to think once your newborn arrives, and partly to avoid any awkward conversations (or outright bickering) further down the line when you’re both overtired (and tetchy).
Time to put the kettle on, turn your phones off and start asking yourselves…
What about the crying?
How you’re going to react to your crying baby is hard to imagine right now, but it’s still a good idea to have a conversation about what approach you’re going to take. Lets face it, you will have to deal with tears at some point and there will even be times when you’ve tried everything to settle your baby, but she’s still crying. So how will you cope?
“The important thing to discuss is your partner’s support when your baby is crying,” says Denise Knowles, relationship expert on Pampers Village Parenting Panel. “This could be how you plan to share out dealing with your crying baby, such as making it a team effort as opposed to leaving it to the parent who is better at dealing with it,” says Lin Griffiths, practice manager of Relate for Parents.
There will probably be a lot of crying at bedtime, so you and your partner need to work out whether you want to leave your baby to cry for certain periods of time, or whether you’ll rush to offer comfort at the first sign of tears. And, if there’s persistent crying at night who’s going to be the one to get up and deal with it?
What will it all cost?
Yes, talking about money will never be fun (unless you’ve won the lottery of course!) but it’s important to get it sorted early on – as arguments about money are the most common disagreements between couples.
“First you need to check what financial help you’re entitled to and then you both need to sit down and work out your ingoings and outgoings (remember you’ll be on a lower maternity leave salary) and how you’ll manage what you’re left with,” says Denise.
“And be realistic – you can never prepare an exact budget each month as sometimes babies are unpredictable.” For example, she may have a sudden growth spurt so will need bigger-sized clothes.
What about childcare?
“The main areas to discuss are what hours you’ll do and who will look after your baby,” says Denise. “This could be a nursery, childminder or family but whatever you decide it has to be something you’re both comfortable with and confident about.”
“Ask yourselves, ‘who will we trust with our baby?’” says Lin. “And if you decide this is a nursery or childminder pay a visit together now so you know you’re both happy with it.”
Family visits: how often?
“Grandparents can play a big part in family life, but talk to your partner first about what both of you would like from your parents, such as how much you want to visit them and vice versa, and whether you want their help with childcare,” says Denise.
You then need to ask each set of parents how much they want to be involved, explaining how much of a role you wish them to take. Whatever you decide, make sure you and your partner show a united front.
Chores: who does what?
It’s amazing how much extra mess and stuff to do can be created by having an extra little person at home. Time for some reshuffling in the chores department.
“If you can discuss now what you think you’ll need to prioritise each day, for example washing and cooking, and what you’re willing to let go, such as cleaning the skirting boards or dusting the lampshades. This will save you trying to work this out when the baby arrives,” says Denise.
Talk about what you both think you’ll be good at doing in your new mum and dad roles too and when you’re discussing your chores be honest about what you think you can handle. You may also want to talk about getting in some temporary help, like an occasional cleaner, or think about friends or relatives you can approach to help out.
Do we use a dummy?
“It may seem like a daft thing to discuss before your baby has even arrived but talking about soothers now will save you hassle later. Ask yourselves the questions: will you use it just to soothe or as something to bung in your baby’s mouth at the first whimper? Will you use it just at night or all through the day? How long do you plan to use it?
“If either of you are against the soother work out why you feel this way,” says Lin. “It’s likely that your views are ones learnt from your parents but you need to talk about how you both feel about it.”
If you’re in disagreement you’ll have to work out a way to compromise, which will probably involve using the soother in moderation and agreeing on an age you’ll take it away.
Who’ll get up in the night
“I’m already on night duty with my two toddlers and now I’m pregnant with my third, we’ve decided it’s best for me to keep getting up when number three is here.
As my partner goes to work it’s easier for me to continue to get up. However, he’s great at the weekend as he lets me have a lie-in and takes over toddler duty.”
Nikki Slevin, 40, from Fife, mum to Holly, 4, Ruby, 2, and 33 weeks pregnant
Where the baby will sleep
“My partner Ben and I will turn one room into a nursery. But I really want the baby sleeping in our room in a Moses basket for the first few months as it’ll make things easier, and after chatting to Ben about it he agrees. I’m glad we’ve discussed it before the baby’s here.”
Rachel Malcolm, 31, from London, 14 weeks pregnant
Where to spend Christmas
“When I was pregnant with Zara my husband and I decided we’d stay at our house for her first Christmas. The big day usually involves a 500-mile round trip to squeeze everyone in, but as Zara was only going to be a month old we decided we didn’t want to travel far.”
Dawn Brown, 33, from Durham, mum to Zara, 6 months