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

10 questions to make sure you’re ready to become mom + dad.

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 doesn't 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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My village lives far away—but my Target baby registry helped them support me from afar

Virtual support was the next best thing to in-person hugs

They say you shouldn't make too many major life transitions at once. But when I was becoming a mama for the first time nearly five years ago, my husband and I also moved to a new town where we didn't know a soul, bought our first house and changed jobs.

To put it mildly, we didn't heed that advice. Luckily, our family and friends still made it feel like such a magical time for us by supporting our every move (literal and otherwise) from afar. They showered us with love through a virtual baby shower (expectant parents nowadays can relate!) featuring the unwrapping of gifts they were able to ship straight to me from my Target registry.

Here's one piece of advice I did take: I registered at Target so I could take advantage of the retailer's benefits for registrants, which include a welcome kit valued over $100, a universal registry function and more. Fast-forward a few years and Target has made the registration perks even better for expectant parents: As of August 2020, they've added a Year of Exclusive Deals, which gives users who also sign up for Target Circle a full year of savings after baby is born on all those new mama essentials, from formula to diapers and beyond.

Honestly, even without the significant perks of a free welcome kit with more than $100 in coupons, additional 15% off coupons to complete the registry and a full year of free returns, registering at Target wasn't a hard sell for me: Even though the experience of shopping for baby items was new, shopping with Target felt like returning home to me… and the comfort of that was such a gift.

And of course, Target's registry plays a vital role right now, as expectant parents everywhere are being forced to cancel in-person baby showers and navigate early parenthood without the help of a hands-on village. A registry like this represents a safe way for communities to come through for new parents. If you're anything like me (or any of the other mamas here at Motherly), you certainly have emotional ties and fond memories associated with Target.

What to register for at Target was also an easy talking point as I began to connect with moms in my new community. I will always remember going on a registry-building spree with my next door neighbor, who had young children of her own. As we walked the aisles of Target back in 2015, she suggested items to add… and we laid the foundation for what has since become one of my most cherished friendships.

Even as I made connections in my new hometown, I was nervous that expecting my first baby wouldn't feel as special as if I were near family and friends. But my loved ones exceeded all expectations by adding the most thoughtful notes to gifts. They hosted a beautiful virtual baby shower and even encouraged me to keep the registry going after my baby made his debut and new needs arose.

In the years since, "community" has taken on a wonderfully complex new meaning for me… and, in these times of social distancing, for the rest of the world. I've come to cherish my newfound friends in our local community alongside those long-time friends who are scattered around the county and my virtual mama friends.

Now, as my friends' families grow, I'm so grateful that I can show them the same love and support I felt during my first pregnancy. I sing the praises of Target's baby registry—especially in light of the pandemic, since I know mamas can do everything from a distance thanks to Target's website and the added benefit of getting trusted reviews and helpful registry checklists.

And now that I'm on the gift-buying side of the equation, I've found new joy in picking thoughtful gifts for my friends. (Because goodness knows Target has something for everyone!)

For my friend who is a fellow runner, I teamed up with a few others to give the jogging stroller she had on her registry.

For my friend who is a bookworm, I helped her start her baby's library with a few books that are also well-loved in our home.

For other friends, I've bundled together complete "sets" with everything they need for bathing or feeding their children.

I know from my own experience that, yes, the registry purchases are so appreciated, but the thoughtfulness and the support they represent means even more. Because although my village may have been distant, the support they showed me was the next best thing to in-person hugs.

Start your own Target Baby Registry here to experience a Year of Benefits including a Year of Exclusive Deals through Target Circle to enjoy for a full year following your baby's arrival, a year of free returns, two 15% off completion coupons and a free welcome kit ($100 value).

This article was sponsored by Target. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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9 products that will help baby sleep better (and longer!)

For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

How do I get my baby to sleep? This is one of the most commonly asked questions among new parents, and it makes sense, given that babies are born with their days and nights mixed up. For many parents, attempting naps and bedtime can seem like a never-ending cycle of rocking, shushing and hoping for some kind of magic sleep solution.

And while that might not exist (yet), we have found some of the best products out there that can help baby fall asleep faster and for longer durations. Because when baby is sleeping, so are you!

Dreamland Baby weighted sleep sack and swaddle

Designed by a mama, parents swear by this weighted sleep sack. It mimics your hug to give your baby security and comfort that helps them get to sleep faster and stay asleep longer. The detachable swaddle wing makes it easy to transition as they grow.

It's also super easy to get on and off, and includes a bottom-up zipper for late night changes, so you don't have to wake your baby in the process.

$79

Yogasleep Hushh portable sound machine

Yogasleep hushh sound machine

With three soothing options, this is a perfect solution to help your baby settle when naps are on the go and during travel! I love how compact this noise machine is and that it can run all night with one charge.

$30

Bebe au Lait muslin crib sheets

Burt's Bees Organic Crib Sheets

With a variety of print options to choose from, these breathable sheets are *so* soft and smooth, even through multiple washes. The luxury fabric keeps little ones warm without overheating—a formula that helps ensure more sleep for everyone.

$32

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

The Simple Folk perfect pajamas

You know what's going to help baby have their best sleep ever? Some quality, super soft pajamas. The timeless (and aptly named!) Perfect Pajama from The Simple Folk are some of our favorites. They last forever and they're made from organic pima cotton that is safe on baby's precious skin. They come in a wide range of sizes so siblings can match and feature fold-over hand covers on sizes up to 12 months.

$37

The Snoo bassinet

Snoo

Designed by expert pediatrician and sleep guru Dr. Harvey Karp, the Snoo bassinet gently rocks your baby to sleep while snuggled up in the built-in swaddle. Not only does it come with sensors that adjust the white noise and movement based on your baby's needs, there is also an app that allows you to adjust the settings directly from your phone.

While this item is a bit on the expensive side, there is now an option to rent for $3.50 a day, which is a total game changer!

$1295

Hatch Baby Rest sound machine + nightlight

best baby sound machine

The Hatch Baby Rest is a dual sound machine and nightlight that will grow with your family. Many parents use this product with their infants as a white-noise machine and then as a "time to rise" solution for toddlers.

The thing I love most about this product is that the light it gives off isn't too bright, and you can even select different color preferences; giving your toddler choices at bedtime.

$59.99

Crane humidifier

Crane Humidifier

The only thing worse than a sick baby is a baby who is sick and not sleeping well. The Crane humidifier helps take care of this by relieving congestion and helping your baby breathe better while sleeping.

Personally, I think the adorable design options alone are enough of a reason to purchase this product, and your child will love watching steam come out of the elephant's trunk!

$46.99

Naturepedic organic crib mattress

Naturpedic Lightweight Organic Mattress

In the first few months of life, babies can spend up to 17 hours a day sleeping, so choosing a mattress that is safe (read: no chemicals!) and comfortable is incredibly important.

Naturepedic uses allergen-friendly and waterproof materials with babies and children in mind, making them easy to clean and giving you peace of mind.

$259.00

Happiest Baby sleepea 5-second swaddle

best baby swaddle

There are baby swaddles and then there is Sleepea. Similar to the brand's swaddle that is built into the Snoo, the Sleepea is magic for multiple reasons. First, it's got mesh panels ensuring baby never overheats. Second, the zipper zips from the top or the bottom, so you can change the baby's diaper in the middle of the night without ever waking them. Third, it's hip safe. Fourth, the patterns are SO cute. And fifth, the interior swaddle wrap that keeps baby's ams down has a "quiet" velcro that won't wake baby if you need to readjust while they're asleep.

$27.95

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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The 6 biggest lies I believed before having kids

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves.

Just about all of us had set assumptions about raising kids before we became parents ourselves. Some of these ideas might have been based on our own ideas of how we would absolutely do things differently than everyone else. Others, we believed what everyone else told us would happen would apply to our littles, too. But, that's not always the case, mama.

Below are six of the biggest lies I believed before having kids—and the reality of what actually happened for me.

1. Put your baby down drowsy, but awake

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