When baby fever strikes, it's tempting to spend endless time trying to make one (fun task that it is!) and not so much time talking about the nuts and bolts of becoming parents. So we asked experts to create a short list of key conversations to have before the 40-week countdown begins.
The Big One
Sure, your friends may all be having babies—but that doesn't mean you're ready to, says Dr. Lissa Rankin, an OB-GYN and mom of one in San Francisco and author of What's Up Down There? Questions You'd Only Ask Your Gynecologist if She Was Your Best Friend. "First and foremost you have to ask: Do both of you really want to be parents? If not, stop right there!"
While you don't have to start saving for college (yet!), it's a good idea to talk about financial issues—everything from just how much you'll be shelling out for your tiny new housemate to whether you can afford to take extra maternity leave (check out Bringing Up Baby On A Budget for more guidance on handling your finances). Sites like Mint are good places to get a general handle on your budget—for free.
"Before becoming pregnant, couples should discuss family medical history from both sides," says Atlanta-based OB-GYN Dr. Melody T. McCloud. Genetic disorders and diseases can affect a developing baby. Even if you've been together for what seems like forever, it's time to talk STDs and maybe get re-tested. And reach out to parents and other family members for the lowdown on any family health issues.
"Coming up with shared parenting values can help prepare you for things to come," says Dr. Rankin. "My husband and I played the 'What if?' game for a year before we decided to have a child together: What if he wants to openly have sex in our house when he's only 18? What if she wants to be a model when she's 12? We also discussed the biggies, like what religion we'd raise our child in." You don't have to make all of your decisions now (there'll be plenty of time to stress later—woo hoo!), but it'll be helpful to get a sense of your partner's take on parenting … even fun.
No matter how many books or blogs you read about parenthood, the sheer amount of change once a baby makes his debut "is usually quite a shock for couples," says Dr. Hilda Hutcherson, a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University. Dr. Hutcherson suggests having a good heart-to-heart (if not two!) about everything from extended-family involvement to the fact that you two are going to have less time for each other. Strengthen your relationship now and once the baby's here, you'll be much more prepared to weather the episode of your lives known as Survivor: Parenthood.