With a baby comes a ton of parenting decisions to discuss with your spouse. Some can wait until you need to make a decision, but others are best discussed beforehand.
As you raise your baby together, you’ll constantly find yourself barraged with decisions regarding your baby, your family, and yourself.
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by all these important decisions. Especially when they all affect your new baby!
In this post, I’ll cover important decisions you should discuss with your spouse or partner prior to your baby’s arrival, if at all possible.
Talking about these important decisions will help make your labor and delivery, and postpartum experience less stressful. And, they will help prevent you from making spur of the moment decisions that you may regret later.
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Parenting Decisions To Discuss Before Baby Arrives
First of all, take time to talk about decisions you’ll need to make as part of your labor and delivery. Now is a great time to put together a birth plan so that everyone is on the same page.
Talk about things like:
- Where do you plan to give birth? (hospital, birth center, at home?)
- Do you plan to use medication? (epidural, other medications?)
- What is your pain management plan?
- Is a C-section okay with you, or do you want to avoid it unless absolutely necessary?
- Who will do skin to skin first?
- Who else will be in the delivery room?
- Do you want (or not want) your baby to have the Vitamin K shot, Hepatitis shot, or eye ointment?
- Are there things that you don’t want done with your baby while at the hospital?
- Do you want your baby bathed before going home, or left unwashed?
Even though many of these decisions are ultimately up to the mother, talking them through with your spouse is always a good idea. You may find your spouse has a different point of view on some things, or will think of things you hadn’t considered before.
If nothing else, talking through your optimal birth experience with your spouse will help to make dad feel more involved in the process.
If you are having a boy, another one of the big parenting decisions you’ll want to discuss beforehand is circumcision.
If you do want your little boy circumcised, you will likely be able to have this procedure done before you leave the hospital. Be aware that many hospitals require you to accept the Vitamin K shot in order to do circumcision. So if you’re on the fence about the Vitamin K shot, it may interfere with a decision to circumcise.
Whether you decide to circumcise or not is completely up to you, and may depend on a number of different factors.
Before your baby arrives, you and your spouse will definitely want to decide how you plan to feed your baby.
What to feed baby?
Will you try to breastfeed? If so, how long do you hope to breastfeed your baby? While I am totally for breastfeeding, be aware that things can come up that prevent you from feeding your baby this way.
Some moms struggle to keep up their milk supply, or deal with a lot of pain while nursing. Or, you may find that your baby is allergic to certain parts of breast milk and unable to feed this way.
I don’t say all this to discourage you. I really do hope you will try to breastfeed your baby. And know that there are tons of resources out there to help you success on your breastfeeding journey.
But, don’t be discouraged or feel inadequate if you need to supplement with formula as well, or stop breastfeeding altogether. You are more than enough for your baby, whether you breastfeed or not!
The other alternative to breastfeeding is formula. Formula is an artificial alternative to breast milk, and has its pros and cons as well. It will be more expensive to formula feed, of course.
But, you may find more freedom in allowing others to feed your baby, without having to pump breast milk to feed from a bottle. If breastfeeding is not an option, or is too physically or mentally taxing, formula feeding may be a good alternative choice for your baby.
Who will feed baby?
Another decision you’ll want to discuss before the baby arrives is who will be responsible for feeding the baby.
If you plan to breastfeed, mom will likely be the one primarily responsible for feeding the baby. Unless, of course, you plan to pump breast milk and bottle feed. In this case, dad and other family members will likely be able to help out more when it comes to feeding the baby. Although, mom will still be responsible to pump the breast milk.
If you plan to formula feed, your options for who can feed the baby is a bit broader, since anyone could do it.
The biggest thing you’ll want to discuss regarding feeding the baby is who will feed the baby during the night. Since both mom and dad are typically at home during the night (unless one of you works a night shift), you will both have equal opportunity to feed the baby (unless your baby refuses to take a bottle, of course).
You may find it beneficial for one of you to be responsible to get up and feed the baby during the night, or during certain parts of the night.
My feeding plan for Elijah
Personally, I nursed Elijah about 90% of the time for the first nine months or so. This was mostly because I found it to be less work to just nurse him, rather than pumping, bottle feeding him, and then having to clean all the pump and bottle parts.
But, pretty early on I started having my husband feed Elijah a bottle of pumped breast milk in the evening, just to give me a break. I still had to pump around the same time, but it was a good way to take a break from it and allow Cody some time to bond with Elijah.
After about nine months, we had to start supplementing Elijah with a bottle or two of formula because he needed more than I could keep up with. At that point, I would feed him a bottle of pumped breast milk before his afternoon nap. Later that evening, Cody would feed him a bottle of formula before bed.
While I wasn’t initially happy to start supplementing, it did relieve a lot of unnecessary stress that I had heaped on myself.
Sleep Plan (one of the most important parenting decisions you should be discussing!)
Right along with feeding, a sleep plan is one of the important parenting decisions to discuss with your partner prior to delivery.
Often in the early days, your sleep plan will coincide with your feeding plan to some degree. For instance, whoever is up feeding the baby in the night will obviously not be the one sleeping during those times. However you decide to divvy up this responsibility, try to give each other an equal share of rest to prevent early parental burnout.
Another important aspect of this decision is where your baby will sleep. While it is recommended that your baby sleep in a crib or bassinet, many parents find that co-sleeping works best for them.
Will you take a newborn sleep course?
One thing I highly recommend new parents do is take a newborn sleep course. This is something I wish I had thought to look into before we had our son. I think it would have saved us a lot of the frustration we had when it came to getting him to sleep.
Taking an online sleep course, such as Baby, We’re Home! Now Let’s Sleep, can make such a difference. I’ve personally taken this course, and the information Andrea teaches in it makes all the difference.
To be clear, this is not a sleep training course. Rather, this course teaches you everything you need to know about newborn sleep. And most importantly, it lays the groundwork for good sleep patterns, which in turns leads to better sleep. And more of it!
Getting baby to sleep is one of the most common things that new moms struggle with. Ironically, sleep is also one of the things we need most after birth in order to health and recover.
Honestly, one of the best things you can do for yourself as a new mom is to invest in the baby sleep education you need. It’s worth it, and you are worth it.
Household responsibilities is easily one of the biggest parenting decisions that is important to discuss before. Because if you don’t, it is very easy for it to become a point of conflict later on.
When you bring a new baby home, it is very likely that household responsibilities will need to be shifted around, at least for a bit (if not permanently). If nothing else, you’re going to need time to heal and recuperate from labor and delivery.
And, you’ll need time to figure out a new routine that includes your little one and takes care of their needs, as well as your own. All this takes time. So before you bring that newborn home, sit down and talk about who will take on what responsibilities.
You may eventually be able to take on all the cooking, cleaning, and child raising, but you’re going to want some help for a bit while you recuperate and get used to having a new little person around.
Having this talk beforehand can help to alleviate some unnecessary stress later on.
Future Discipline Techniques
Although it will be a while before your little one is big enough to get into trouble, it never hurts to get ahead of the game when it comes to parenting decisions.
Time goes by much faster after you have a baby. Before you know it, your little one will be getting into all kinds of trouble. How will you handle teaching and disciplining your child when the time comes?
It’s never too early to start thinking about these things. And it’s especially important to discuss these parenting decisions with your spouse. It is beyond important you both be on the same page when the time comes.
Be aware that your spouse may have some different ideas on how they’d like to raise, teach, and discipline your child. And that’s okay. In all likelihood, you will both lean toward how you were each raised (or completely against, in some cases). The important thing is to come together and figure out how to do what works best for your family.
Before the baby arrives, you’ll definitely want to take a look at your finances together. Having a baby can be expensive, both before and after delivery.
Take the time to figure out how you plan to pay for your medical expenses. Also estimate how much you’ll need to spend weekly or monthly on things like diapers and wipes, and any needed clothes when your baby outgrows a size. If you plan to formula feed, you’ll need to figure out how to cover that expense.
Figuring out your finances ahead of time can save you a lot of time and even money later on. It will also help to lower your stress after you have the baby by knowing it’s all been taken care of ahead of time.
Baby Care Plan
Last but not least, an often overlooked topic when it comes to parenting decisions is basic baby care.
For example, who will take care of changing diapers? Who will be in charge of bath time?
Coming up with a baby care routine ahead of time can help to reduce stress after you bring your baby home. And, having a routine (not a schedule, a routine) with your baby can be so beneficial for them.
Here’s what you need to know to take care of a newborn
Can I be super honest with you? I pretty much “winged” everything as a new parent. I had no idea what I was doing most of the time, and we made decisions as the need arose.
Sometimes it worked. And sometimes we could have done a lot better. If you’re like I was and feel like you have no idea how to take care of a newborn, you don’t have to wing it.
I wish I had known better in the moment, but I just wasn’t aware of the newborn resources available out there. One of those resources that I highly recommend is the course Newborn Basics 101.
When I first took this course, I wasn’t expecting to learn anything new. After all, I was already past the baby stage and my son was a toddler when I went through the course. Boy, was I wrong!
There were definitely things I learned that I wasn’t aware of, even though I had literally raised a newborn already. And I can honestly say that the information and tips in Newborn Basics 101 would have saved me a whole lot of stress during the newborn stage.
Wrap Up Of Parenting Decisions To Discuss Before Baby
Do you plan to discuss some of these important parenting decisions with your spouse/partner before your baby arrives? Can you think of others not mentioned? Share with me in the comments below—I’d love to hear your thoughts!