Expecting a new baby? There are 6 important topics you and your partner need to discuss before arrival
With a growing family comes changing dynamics. Here’s how couples can prepare.
Finances, housework and intimacy typically aren’t high on the list of talking points related to welcoming a new baby. And, although a new addition is an exciting time for families, the family dynamics do change.
Whether it’s your firstborn, your second or your third, fourth or fifth, adding another child to the mix can affect a lot. I’m talking about families’ work and home schedules. I’m talking about sleep patterns and finances. And I’m talking about couples’ intimacy.
The best way to get ready for these changes is to plan. Couples should talk about every aspect of their lives, and how they’ll adjust. If a new baby will soon be joining your family, here are some of the things I urge you to make time to talk about before that much-anticipated arrival:
Adding a baby to the family will likely increase family expenses. If you’re going to be first-time parents, determine what essentials you’ll need to purchase – like a crib, car seat, stroller and clothes. Budget for increased health insurance premiums and copays for doctor visits. And if you and your partner both work outside the house, be sure to factor in daycare costs.
Working parents need to talk through the return-to-work transition. Will one parent need to leave earlier to get home for baby? Who will do daycare drop off and pick up? Where will you take your baby for well-child visits? You’ll want to consider choosing a clinic that’s convenient to get to, since your baby will have at least six routine check-ups before he or she even turns 1!
If you have children already, how will a new sibling affect their schedules? For example, will the baby’s naptime interfere with your older child’s soccer practice? Prioritize family time over too many scheduled activities. My husband and I had a one sport and one music activity per kid rule with our three children. And that really worked for us.
When introducing a new sibling, be intentional about involving your older children in the process. Let them pick out a new toy for the baby. Or, have them come to a prenatal visit and hear baby’s heartbeat. Moms and dads can take older children to the park, to a movie or even to the grocery store to ensure bonding time with them doesn’t get shorted with the new baby.
In the first few weeks after baby arrives, focus on connecting with your new addition and bonding with your family. Eat and sleep, but don’t worry about the thank-you notes or keeping the house clean. And try to limit your errands, particularly if you’ve had a cesarean section and can’t drive for two weeks. Ask family and friends for help. Really, don’t be shy about this. In most cases, they want to help. They just need reassurance from you, the new parents, that they’re not intruding.
Before the new baby arrives, parents should agree on their routine for during-the-night awakenings and other responsibilities. Who will get up with the baby or will the parents take turns? Whatever your family decides, it’s important to make sleep a priority. Sometimes tag teaming is best because if everyone is sleep deprived, that’s hard.
Let’s be honest; intimacy is complicated by kids. There’s less time, less energy and less opportunity for spontaneity. Be intentional and communicative with one another about connecting with each other.
Schedule date nights. Hire a babysitter or swap babysitting with friends. Be sure to plan time for just the two of you, when interruptions are unlikely and you’re not too tired.
About Laura Dean, MD
Dr. Laura Dean is a board certified OB-GYN with Stillwater Medical Group. She practices at the Lakeview Hospital Campus in Stillwater and at the HealthPartners White Bear Lake Clinic. Dr. Dean has worked with patients as young as 8 and as old as 93. She is committed to being available to her patients at all times and says working for the HealthPartners organization is a perfect fit for that. In college, Dr. Dean was an All American Track & Field Athlete at The University of St. Thomas and she still enjoys running. She’s married to her kindergarten sweetheart and has three children. Much of her free time is spent hanging out with them, hiking and reading.