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10 Parenting Discussions to Have Before Baby Arrives

by Katlyn Joy
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Sometimes as expectant parents we can be all about the big day, the birth, and forget about so much that follows. So if you know what to pack in the labor bag and know whether or not you want an epidural but haven't decided where baby is sleeping when he gets home from the hospital, you may need to talk about some things.

Just remember, you probably didn't agree on everything when you were dating, so expect some compromise and negotiations during these conversations. Try to hear each other out before forming a reply, or especially a counter-argument. Remember the big picture and that you are now a parenting team!

1. Maternity/family leave

After finding out the policies of your workplace, sit down notebook in hand and discuss the possible options for what you'll do once the baby arrives and a general schedule. Will you return fulltime to work following a 6 week leave? Will you opt for leaving a few weeks prior to your due date and return to part time hours a month or two following the baby's birth, gradually increasing your work hours back to pre-baby hours? Will you split the time at home or take off from work together in the initial days of becoming a family?

2. Breast or bottle

After deciding this you must discuss how you're going to make this choice work for you. If you choose to breastfeed will you wean before returning to work, or will you supplement with formula? Or will you pump a milk supply to leave with baby? Of course, of all the parenting decisions, this is one that will need to be flexible as you learn what works and doesn't work for you, your partner and your child. Don't expect your decisions on breastfeeding to follow an exact plan. For instance if you plan to stop nursing prior to returning to your job, don't be surprised if you keep the nighttime nursings for a few weeks more to allow both yourself and your baby time to adjust to no longer being a breastfeeding duo.

3. Caregivers or daycare

Once you both return to work, if that is your family plan, who will watch the baby when you are gone? Will one parent always be present or will baby need a caregiver? If so, who will fill these big shoes? You may look to relatives, daycare centers, home daycare providers or a nanny service as just some of the potential choices. Always look at references no matter the provider or how professional everything seems. Feel free to drop in to check up on baby to make sure all is well.

4. Pediatrician

You may think you have time for this decision, but actually you'll need to find a doctor for the baby before you leave the hospital. Talk to friends, family members and your ob-gyn or the nurse from the office where you receive pre-natal care for recommendations. Considerations beyond positive reviews include proximity to your home or work, whether they accept your insurance and if they take new patients at this time. Set up a phone or in person interview to see if you are a good fit.

5. Sleeping arrangements

Sometimes a couple will encounter an obstacle in a parenting plan when it comes to where baby sleeps. Some families have a long standing tradition of having a separate nursery for baby from night one, while others bring the crib into the bedroom until the infant reaches several months in age. Still others want babies to co-sleep. Discuss your options as a couple and try to remain flexible in your talks, listening for not only desires but the motivations behind them to help you both come to an agreement. Realize that as you bring home baby, your decisions may waffle a bit.

6. Pacifier or no pacifier

Parenting styles may vary here, and hardcore nursing enthusiasts may balk at the introduction of an artificial nipple to soothe the little one, but recent research does indicate that use of a pacifier may reduce the risk of SIDS or Sudden Infant Death Syndrome.

7. Writing your will

This is not the most fun conversation an expectant parent can have, but definitely one of the most important. You'll need to think about a guardian for your child, (don't neglect to talk to the chosen person/couple) and how you'll provide for your child's care in your absence. Life insurance, trusts and such are all options to discuss.

8. Medical/health issues

If you have a boy, you need to decide on your feelings about circumcision for your son. While most parents choose to have their children vaccinated, a parent from a different religious background may have concerns or even objections. These decisions need to be made before the child arrives.

9. Cultural issues

Will you pierce your daughter's ears while she's still an infant or wait until she 6 or 16? Will you let your child's hair grow until he is two years old or let Uncle Ernie the barber trim it on his first birthday like all the other kids in your family?

10. Baby Names

Choosing a baby name is a big decision and one that sticksforever. Your child will thank you two to take your time and take all kinds of factors into account before settling on the moniker.


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