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I do... want a baby: 10 questions to discuss with your partner before getting pregnant

We’re assuming you and your partner have talked about having a family, at least generally, before you up and decided it was baby time. But it’s time to get specific.


We chatted with relationship experts to find out the most important topics to talk about as a couple before you embark on the biggest adventure of your lives: parenthood.

Here are the 10 crucial questions to discuss:

1. Why now?

There’s no right or wrong answer, but it’s essential to be on the same page about what you value, how you’ve already grown as a couple and why you both feel that it’s baby time. (Psst: Is one of you on the fence about a baby? Check out our article about how to handle that discussion.)

2. How will this affect us as a couple?

Dr. Terri Orbuch, relationship expert and author of 5 Simple Steps to Take Your Marriage from Good to Great suggests that you talk about each of your expectations once the baby arrives, covering everything from dividing up responsibilities to how dynamics will change. Make sure you cover:

Division of labor

Including changing diapers, waking up at night, caring for the child during the day, doing bath time, bedtime, etc.

Finances

What will change? Will you create a new budget together? How will you save for your child’s education and expenses? Be clear and up front about this with one another.

How your relationship will change

Adding a third person to your mix is going to make things a little different. But don’t panic! Just be sure to discuss your hopes and fears together so you’re on the same page.

3. How strong are we as a couple right now?

Ashley Davis Bush, psychotherapist and author of 75 Habits for a Happy Marriage, says, “You need to feel that things are working, that you are close, that you handle things well together.” A baby won’t make anything easier, so be sure you work on solidifying your relationship first and foremost.

“Often couples are feeling rocky and think that having a baby will bring them closer together,” Davis Bush says. “Not true. Having a baby can be a stressor on the relationship, so you have to start strong. If you start weak, things will only get worse.”

4. How do we want to parent?

Therapist Zach Brittle suggests discussing what “mom” and “dad” mean to you both. This might mean unpacking each of your childhoods a bit. What was great about them? What did you not like?

“We learn to parent from our parents. Some of us have a lot of gratitude and respect for our parents. Some of us don't have much at all,” Brittle says. “It’s important for both partners to expose their notions of ‘mom’ and ‘dad’ to each other, and perhaps to do this over and over again as you learn more about it, so that you can define your own path rather than slip unconsciously into your parents’ [paths].”

5. What will we do for childcare?

Marriage and family therapist Mary Kay Cocharo says this is a good time to start talking about who will work, and who might stay home, when the baby arrives. (It’s okay to change your mind! Just start the conversation.)

“Today’s couples have lots of choices but must also balance the demand of the increasing cost of living,” Cocharo says. “Some couples want one parent to stay home and must either supplement their income from another source or make difficult cuts. Other couples want both parents to continue working but find the demands of career and children a difficult balancing act. Talking about this before baby makes three is an important step in planning.”

Are both parents going back to work?

Will you hire an au pair or nanny? Ask the grandparents to take on a few days? Find a day care center? Finding a situation you’re both comfortable with is key.

Is one parent going to stay home?

If one parent is giving up their salary, discuss how you will make up for the loss in income. This financial shift will take some getting used to and you’ll need to adjust your budget, so communicate with each other openly.

6. How will we discipline?

Marriage and family therapist Chrissy Powers, herself a mom of two, says discipline is a must-discuss item.

“Discipline is about so much more than just correction. We learned about discipline from our own parents, and as all married people know, each family is different. I wish that most people understood that discipline is more about the relationship with your child,” she says. “My husband and I have had to get on the same page with this, but it's taken us four years to do so because we had different ideas of how to discipline. When bringing up the topic of discipline, I think a couple should discuss how they were disciplined as children and what they did and didn't like about it.”

7. What religious beliefs or values do we want to pass on?

Do you want to raise your kids in one particular faith? What values do you hope your children embody in their own lives? How will you set an example for them? Does this mean attending religious services, or living according to your own moral guidelines in any particular ways?

8. How will we make time for our relationship after baby?

Are you ready to add another person (aka an amazing little human) into your family?

Brittle explains, “When the baby comes, it will demand nearly all of your time and energy and love. This means you’ll have less for your partner. That’s just a fact. You’ll need to be much more intentional about the time and energy and love that you do have available and use it to protect and nurture your friendship. It’s easy for couples to grow distant without even noticing when they don't do this.”

9. What if trying to conceive is challenging for us?

Cocharo says couples should also discuss the possibility of not getting pregnant right away, and how that may feel. So questions like, “How would you feel if we were unable to conceive?” or “How do you feel about adoption or surrogacy?” are important to talk about.

“Infertility is a very stressful and challenging obstacle for many couples. Rather than silently hope you’ll be one of the lucky ones with no problems, discuss the importance of having children ahead of time,” Cocharo says. “Ask each other about your openness to infertility treatments, as well as adoption or surrogacy. Assuming that your partner feels how you do, without discussion, is a recipe for disappointment and disaster down the road.”

10. What do we want our future to look like?

It’s easy to get caught up in the excitement of starting a family, but what do you want life to look like when your kids are grown? Do you dream of family vacations with one or two adult children, or Thanksgiving meals with a football team of kids gathered around?

“At some point—18 or so years after the baby arrives—the baby will leave. And the two of you will be free to make some choices,” Brittle says.

“Don’t wait to start dreaming about what you’re going to do. Will you travel to Ireland? Buy a boat? Move to the mountains? Go back to work? It really doesnt matter what your dream is, but it matters that you have one. It’ll help you keep your head up when the baby demands all your attention, and it’ll give you vision for the future when you’re overwhelmed by the present.”


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When you become a parent for the first time, there is an undeniably steep learning curve. Add to that the struggle of sorting through fact and fiction when it comes to advice and—whew—it's enough to make you more tired than you already are with that newborn in the house.

Just like those childhood games of telephone when one statement would get twisted by the time it was told a dozen times, there are many parenting misconceptions that still tend to get traction. This is especially true with myths about bottle-feeding—something that the majority of parents will do during their baby's infancy, either exclusively or occasionally.

Here's what you really need to know about bottle-feeding facts versus fiction.

1. Myth: Babies are fine taking any bottle

Not all bottles are created equally. Many parents experience anxiety when it seems their infant rejects all bottles, which is especially nerve wracking if a breastfeeding mom is preparing to return to work. However, it's often a matter of giving the baby some time to warm up to the new feeding method, says Katie Ferraro, a registered dietician, infant feeding specialist and associate professor of nutrition at the University of California San Francisco graduate School of Nursing.

"For mothers returning to work, if you're breastfeeding but trying to transition to bottle[s], try to give yourself a two- to four-week trial window to experiment with bottle feeding," says Ferraro.

2. Myth: You either use breast milk or formula

So often, the question of whether a parent is using formula or breastfeeding is presented exclusively as one or the other. In reality, many babies are combo-fed—meaning they have formula sometimes, breast milk other times.

The advantage with mixed feeding is the babies still get the benefits of breast milk while parents can ensure the overall nutritional and caloric needs are met through formula, says Ferraro.

3. Myth: Cleaning bottles is a lot of work

For parents looking for simplification in their lives (meaning, all of us), cleaning bottles day after day can sound daunting. But, really, it doesn't require much more effort than you are already used to doing with the dishes each night: With bottles that are safe for the top rack of the dishwasher, cleaning them is as easy as letting the machine work for you.

For added confidence in the sanitization, Dr. Brown's offers an incredibly helpful microwavable steam sterilizer that effectively kills all household bacteria on up to four bottles at a time. (Not to mention it can also be used on pacifiers, sippy cups and more.)

4. Myth: Bottle-feeding causes colic

One of the leading theories on what causes colic is indigestion, which can be caused by baby getting air bubbles while bottle feeding. However, Dr. Brown's bottles are the only bottles in the market that are actually clinically proven to reduce colic thanks to an ingenious internal vent system that eliminates negative pressure and air bubbles.

5. Myth: Bottles are all you can use for the first year

By the time your baby is six months old (way to go!), they may be ready to begin using a sippy cup. Explains Ferraro, "Even though they don't need water or additional liquids at this point, it is a feeding milestone that helps promote independent eating and even speech development."

With a complete line of products to see you from newborn feeding to solo sippy cups, Dr. Brown's does its part to make these new transitions less daunting. And, for new parents, that truly is priceless.

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Many parents begin looking into Montessori when their children reach preschool age, but there is so much you can do at home even with the youngest babies. Montessori is much more than a method of education or academic system. It is a philosophy and a certain way of approaching children, whether at school or in the home.

Here are five simple (and free!) ways you can begin using Montessori with your child from birth. And if your child is older, don't worry—all of these principles apply to older children as well.

1. Provide freedom of movement

From birth, we can give children the opportunity to move freely in their environment.

For a newborn, this simply means providing plenty of time when they are not being held or constrained in a carrier, stroller or other device.

You might spend time siting next to your child while they lay on a soft blanket, either inside or outdoors. They're clearly not able to move around the environment on their own at this point, but can practice moving their arms and legs and supporting their head, without their movements being limited.

For an older baby, freedom of movement might include letting them pull up on objects and edge their way around the room at their own pace, rather than putting them in a jumper or holding their hands while they walk.

Freedom of movement is excellent for gross motor development, but it is also a great confidence builder. It sends a clear message to your child that you believe they are capable of developing their muscles and abilities in their own timeframe.

Another aspect of freedom of movement is comfortable clothing that supports a baby's growing ability to move. Dressing your baby in a onesie or loose fitting pants and shirt maximizes their ability to move. Providing young babies plenty of time unswaddled and without mittens or shoes also helps them learn to use their muscles.

2. Use respectful communication

Respectful communication is a hallmark of Montessori for children at all ages, and this can certainly begin at birth. It may feel silly at first, but try telling your infant each time you're going to pick them up. Let them know when it's time to eat or time for a diaper. It will begin to feel more natural each time you do it.

You might try asking permission, such as, "May I pick you up for a diaper change now?"

While they, of course, won't be able to answer you in words yet, they will understand your tone and if you ask regularly, they might start to respond in other ways, such as reaching for you or smiling.

We can also show respect through our communication by always using real, precise language. For example, rather than telling a baby a picture is a "doggie," try telling them it's a "dog," or maybe even the type or name of the dog if you know.

This type of communication lays a wonderful foundation for a relationship of mutual respect, and also exposes your child to a rich vocabulary from the beginning.

3. See caregiving as bonding

Caregiving tasks, such as feeding and changing diapers, can seem endless and can be truly exhausting, especially in the first few months. In Montessori, we try to view these activities as a time for bonding and connecting, a time to give a child our undivided attention.

In a classroom with multiple babies, or a home with older siblings around, this can be an especially important time to take a few moments and be present with the baby you are caring for. It can be so tempting to scroll through social media while breastfeeding or rush through diaper changes to get to the more fun stuff, but these are truly opportunities to slow down, make eye contact with your child, and simply be with them.

Montessori also views these activities as collaborative. We always try to do things "with" children, rather than "to" them.

For the youngest infants, collaboration might just be talking them through what you're doing, or following their lead for when they need to eat and sleep.

For older babies, you can include them more through asking them to crawl to the diaper changing area or bring you a diaper, or offering them two shirts or two foods to choose from.

Reframing these caregiving activities not only makes them more enjoyable for us parents, it ensures that we have regular check-ins where we're fully present with our babies. It makes them feel cared for, and never like a burden.

4. Allow time for independence

How can a baby be independent? They rely on us for so much—warmth, nourishment, safety, love—but we can actually help infants develop independence from the very beginning.

We can look for times when our baby is calm and alert and let them "play," or lay on a blanket, without being held. We can give them time to look around the room and visually explore their new world without interacting with or distracting them.

We can respond to mild fussing first by talking to them, by gently touching them or holding their hand, rather than immediately swooping them up into our arms. Sometimes all they need is a little reassurance that we're there.

Every baby is different and every baby's tolerance for these moments is unique. Some babies might be content to lay on their own for quite a while, while others seem to want to be held constantly. Follow your own child's lead, but look for little opportunities to help them stretch their independence from the start.

5. Practice observation

Observation is one of the most important principles of Montessori for all ages.

Each child is on their own developmental path and the only way we can really know what they need, what challenges they're ready for, is through careful observation.

Naturally, you spend tons of time watching your new baby. Observation is just a slightly different mindset, watching with intention, to see what new skills your baby might be working on, what parts of the room they stare at with captivated interest.

This type of observation will help you know what toys to offer your baby better than any developmental timeline. It will also help you get to know them in a deeper way.

Montessori can seem a bit mysterious or even intimidating, but so much of it is really so simple. It is much more about how we view and interact with children than about academic achievement or beautiful materials.

No matter what type of school you plan to send your children to, incorporating these principles at home from the beginning can add so much to your parenting journey.

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There are so many firsts we get to experience with our baby in those precious 24 hours after birth, but experts suggest that a first bath should not be one of them as waiting could help mama and baby with breastfeeding.

This week a study published in the Journal of Obstetric, Gynecologic & Neonatal Nursing links delaying newborn baths with increased in-hospital exclusive breastfeeding rates.

The study's lead author, Heather Condo DiCioccio, is a nursing professional development specialist for the Mother/Baby Unit at Cleveland Clinic Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights, Ohio. She told TODAY her research was promoted by patients, who have increasingly been asking staff to hold off that first bath in recent years.

Part of this is likely due to the World Health Organization's stance on newborn bathing. The WHO recommends babies should not get a bath for 24 hours, but the recommendations don't really explain why the organization suggests this.

DiCioccio's study involved almost 1000 mama-baby pairs. Around half of the babies were bathed within 2 hours of birth, as per the hospital's previous policy. The rest saw the first bath delayed for at least 12 hours. The researchers found a link between delaying a bath and exclusive breastfeeding, but they could not precisely answer why. DiCioccio thinks it might have something to do with baby's sense of smell.

"They've been swimming in the amniotic fluid for 38, 39, 40 weeks of their life and the mother's breast puts out a similar smell as that amniotic fluid," she told TODAY. "So the thought is maybe the two smells help that baby actually latch. It makes it easier for the baby to find something comfortable and normal and that they like."

For DiCioccio, anything that can help mamas with breastfeeding is a welcome intervention, but the nursing link is not the only benefit to delayed bathing. She notes that keeping the vernix (that white stuff) on the baby for longer allows the baby to benefit from its antimicrobial properties and can help with lung development.

However, sometimes babies do need a bath soon after birth. When mothers are dealing with health issues that can see babies exposed to blood-borne pathogens (like HIV, active herpes lesions or hepatitis B or C), a bath sooner after birth is still best, DiCioccio explained to TODAY.

Even when blood-borne pathogens are not a concern, cultural preferences might be. Not every parent wants to delay baby's first bath, and that's okay—during DiCioccio's study the wishes of parents who wanted their baby bathed shortly after birth were respected—but it's good to have all the knowledge we can get when it comes to postnatal best practices.

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Ayesha Curry has three kids, a husband with a super busy career and a super busy career herself. It would be so easy for her priority list to be: 1) kids, 2) career, then 3) Steph—but the TV host, chef, Honest Company ambassador and entrepreneurial #bossbabe says her partner still has the number one spot, even after all these years.

Speaking to HelloGiggles, Curry explains that she and her Golden State Warrior husband have seen how partners prioritizing each other can benefit a family as a whole. That's why she and Stef don't prioritize the kids above each other.

"Both of our parents are still married and have been married for 30-plus years, and the one thing that they both shared with us—some through learning it the hard way, some through just making sure that they do it—is just making sure that we put each other first, even before the kids, as tough as that sounds," she tells HelloGiggles.

For the Currys, that means making time in those very busy schedules for date nights where they don't have to be mom and dad, they can just connect as partners. Curry admits that it's not always easy to break her brain out of mama-mode and prioritize something other than time with her kids, but she recognizes that when she and Stef put each other first, the kids benefit.

"That's been very important, as hard as it is. Because when you become a parent, you want to put your kids first, and we do, but we do it second to our relationship. Because ultimately, when our relationship is good, the kids are happy and they're thriving and our family life is good. We have to put that into perspective and realize that it's not us being selfish, it's making sure we set a strong foundation."



Experts back Curry up

Family therapist Raffi Bilek, director of the Baltimore Therapy Center, tells Fatherly that while putting each other first may seem counterintuitive to parents, it's important. "I think that the question of when to prioritize your partner over your kid is best answered with 'always,'" Bilek says.

David Code is a therapist and the author of To Raise Happy Kids, Put Your Marriage First. He wants parents to lean on each other more because when we don't our kids can end up shouldering some of our emotional needs, and that's not fair. It's also not fair for parents to put their relationship and themselves last every time. He believes the "greatest gift you can give your children is to have a fulfilling marriage yourself."

According to Code, "families centered on children create anxious, exhausted parents and demanding, entitled children. We parents today are too quick to sacrifice our lives and our marriages for our kids. Most of us have created child-centered families, where our children hold priority over our time, energy and attention."

Therapists like Code and Bilek are calling on parents to put their partners first, and stop buying into the myth that we don't have time for our spouses.

If the Currys can find time for each other in their crazy schedules, so too can the rest of us.

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This morning I left my 4-year-old sobbing in the arms of her Pre-K teacher. As I turned to leave, the sight of her little face crumbling, trying to be brave but not quite managing, tore right to my core. I walked away feeling like I was wading through treacle, my chest aching and my arms heavy and useless where my child should have been. It felt so very unnatural to leave when she was crying out my name.

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