My husband and I were together for almost 8 years before we were ready to “settle down” and have a baby. But almost from the beginning, we’ve been in agreement about the names of our future offspring – with “Humphrey” being the frontrunner for a boy and “Willamena” for a girl.
After a few glasses of vino we’d inevitably end up discussing options for middle names and what nicknames our children would have to endure. We recognized early on that “Hump”, “Humper” and “Humpty Dump” weren’t ideal but also weren’t dealbreakers.
But during all of those drunken baby discussions, never once did we talk about anything actually meaningful. Like, should we sleep train our baby? Or how do we feel about giving our baby formula? Or how will we discipline our children?
And it turns out that all of these subjects were things that we needed to think about long before we worried about any unpleasant nicknames Humphrey would have to endure.
So I’ve compiled a list of the questions that we should have discussed prior to having a baby so that you can have the right conversations early and make sure you and your partner are on the same page!
10 Things to Discuss with Your Partner Before Getting Pregnant
1. What is your expectation regarding my diet during pregnancy?
If you google things that you shouldn’t eat during pregnancy you’ll find more advice than you probably want. Processed meat, cold cured meats, raw fish, fish high in mercury, soft cheeses, unpasteurized milk, raw or undercooked meat, pate, raw or partially cooked eggs, unwashed produce, and raw sprouts are some of the major offenders that you should avoid.
But honestly, the risk associated with most of these is incredibly low. For instance, the reason that you shouldn’t eat lunch meat or unpasteurized milk products is that you’ll be at risk of a listeria infection. But you’re always at risk of listeria when consuming these products. It’s just relatively easy to recover from unless you are pregnant, over 65, or have a weakened immune system. And there are only about 1,600 cases of listeriosis in the US each year (about 200 cases in pregnant women out of 4 million pregnancies).
It’s really hard to avoid eating all of the things listed above for your entire pregnancy. And your chances of actually ingesting something that affects your fetus is quite low. So how important is it to both of you that you follow a strict diet while pregnant?
2. How do you feel about me consuming caffeine/alcohol?
Ask your mom about her experience with pregnancy and she’ll probably say that she had a glass of whiskey and a cigarette each night and you turned out just fine. Okay that might be an exaggeration but there are loads of examples of pregnant women consuming alcohol in moderation with no negative effect on their unborn baby. And a glass of wine can really take the edge off after a long day of being uncomfortable.
The recommended daily dose of caffeine for pregnant women is 200 milligrams per day maximum, which is about 2 cups of medium-strength coffee. That’s total caffeine so you’ll also have to consider your tea and soda intake.
If you want to enjoy a glass of wine at the end of a long day, or if you still need a pick-me-up and have already consumed your 2 recommended cups of coffee – does it matter to your partner? That fetus belongs to both of you so it’s important to agree on what it consumes through mom’s diet.
3. If I can’t drink, are you going to refrain from drinking?
I’ve heard a lot of women say “if I can’t drink while I’m pregnant, my partner can’t either!” This was something that didn’t bother me personally because I reckoned that if the tables were turned, I would probably still enjoy a few drinks every now and again. I might choose not to get shit-faced in front of my partner, but I doubt I’d give up wine for 10 long months.
If it’s important to you that your partner refrains from alcohol with you, best discuss upfront so you’re on the same page!
4. Are you going to avoid the foods that I can’t have during pregnancy?
My husband and I literally got into a huge fight when I was pregnant because we went out to lunch with people who ordered sashimi and went on and on and on about how delicious it was. I was FURIOUS.
I love sashimi and hearing about how good it was too much to handle, causing me to cry and yell as soon as we got home. “Why didn’t you make them stop? Why didn’t we leave? I can’t believe you didn’t stick up for me!” were just a few of the questions I vomited all over him while ugly crying.
See, I was already on a very boozy vacation with a bunch of people so I expected them to take pity on me. And when I asked them not to order something I was seriously craving right in front of me, they ignored my request. And while my husband didn’t partake in the sashimi eating feast, he also never said anything to stop it.
At the end of the day, I should have discussed my expectations with him prior to getting pregnant (or at least when I first found out I was pregnant) so he knew how challenging it would be to watch my favorite (restricted) foods being consumed.
5. How are you going to support me during pregnancy?
Men will never understand how difficult it is to be pregnant. NEVER. So when you are 9 months pregnant with intense heartburn and gas and you can’t sleep or sit comfortably and you’re tired all the time, you may expect that he offer to massage your feet at the end of the day. Or you might expect that he offer to shave your legs since you can’t reach them over your big ole belly.
But he might not be as keen to wait on your every need as you think he should be. Best to set your expectations accordingly so you’re not disappointed. And best to buy yourself a pregnancy massage package.
6. How much do you think most women gain during pregnancy?
In my humble opinion, men are clueless when it comes to women’s weight (and just women in general). Ask your husband how much he thinks you weigh and he’ll probably say something outrageously low or totally offensive.
And in the vein of men being clueless, many of them don’t seem to understand weight gain during pregnancy. They think that there’s the 8 lb baby and the placenta and maybe some amniotic fluid, so 15 lbs total?
Well, I gained 25 lbs and gave birth 4 weeks early, so who knows how large I would have gotten? And I ate well (okay, mostly) and exercised through my entire pregnancy. I cannot imagine how you could make it through all 40 weeks without gaining at least 30-40 lbs.
Make sure you both have realistic expectations about your pregnancy weight gain as well as the amount of time it will take you to lose it.
7. How quickly do you think I’ll get my old body back?
It takes almost 10 months to put on all of your pregnancy weight, cut yourself some slack in taking it back off. My baby is 5 months old and I’m still not down to my pre-baby weight.
I try to make it to the gym at least a few times a week but I’m freaking tired, all of the time! And when I do have a free hour to myself, sometimes I’d rather just sip coffee and scroll Twitter and NOT bust my butt in the gym. And honestly who do I have to impress? My husband and my baby? They’re already stuck with me (evil laugh).
I thought I’d lose my baby weight right away because supposedly breastfeeding burns an additional 550 – 670 calories per day. But realistically that’s just one extra cookie per day (and let’s be honest, I definitely eat more than one cookie a day). Plus there’s a lot of extra sitting around while breastfeeding.
So yeah, it takes a while to lose it. If your partner is shallow and cares about some extra cushion, this might be hard for them to handle.
8. What do you think about epidurals?
Why are epidurals so controversial? And why does everyone want to know whether or not you’re going to get one? If you break your leg and go to the hospital you don’t say “oh no painkillers for me, I’d like to get the full pain experience” do you? Also, it’s none of anyone else’s business.
The only person who *might* have an opinion that matters is your partner so if you definitely want to have an epidural and they definitely don’t want you to, it’s something you should talk about ahead of time.
9. Do you want to find out the gender of our baby before the birth?
Would you both rather find out the sex of your baby, or wait until it’s born to be surprised? This is something that should be agreed upon because it’d be pretty weird if one of you knew and one of you didn’t. And that would be an impossible difficult secret to keep!
This is lower on the list of important topics to cover before you get pregnant but since you’re asking questions, you might as well get it out on the table.
10. How much do we want to share on social media?
When I was pregnant I was tired all the time, had horrible heartburn and felt like a whale. The last thing I wanted was to document my big ole belly. If he’d been snapping photos of me and posting them on social media, it would have been an embarrassing photo war (which would’ve also ended poorly for me since he has way more embarrassing photos of me than I have of him).
Make sure that both you and your partner agree on what you will and won’t share on social media, both of your pregnancy and of your baby once they make their grand appearance!