The 5 conversations you should have with your partner before you give birth.

If you’re currently pregnant, you’re no doubt mulling over the almighty change that comes with the arrival of a new baby. Here’s five things you and your partner can do to pave the way for a smooth transition to parenthood.

Pregnancy and new parenthood is a time of immense change and like any major transition in life, it can prompt an array of emotions; everything from excitement and anticipation to fear, overwhelm and uncertainty.

For you and your partner, becoming parents will be one of your greatest relationship challenges. If you’ve ever Googled anything related to relationship issues, you’ve probably stumbled across psychologist John Gottman who is the founder of The Gottman Institute and the leading international researcher on why marriages succeed or fail. 

While I don’t want to alarm you, his research shows that two thirds of couples experience a significant drop in relationship satisfaction within the first three years of their baby’s birth. 

Watch: The horoscopes as new mums. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia.

It’s confronting, but it’s also a powerful reminder to prepare yourself and to prioritise open conversation about what the next year will look like for you and how you’re going to navigate it together. Here’s five things you need to chat about before your baby is born:


1. How you want to be supported in labour and birth.

Birth education is one of the best choices you can make in pregnancy because it starts a conversation between you and your partner. Labour and birth can be confronting, even more so if you don’t know what to expect. Many people have only heard negative, grief-filled experiences of birth. If this is you, please don’t be deterred by the alarming tales that have been passed down from one friend to the next. Birth education will shift your perspective and is the best first step towards a positive birth experience.

What’s involved? You and your partner will come to understand the process of birth, you’ll learn about your pain relief options and the risks and benefits of interventions. You’ll be armed with birth skills - active birth positions, breathing and sound techniques, affirmations, and massage - that will ensure you go into labour feeling confident in your ability to birth. 

Once your birth knowledge has dispelled your fear, you and your partner will be armed with a strong awareness of what you want and how you're going to navigate the challenge of labour. And then? Talk about it and create a birth plan that you can share with your care provider in late pregnancy and early labour. Birth doesn’t always go to plan but being aware of your preferences and making informed choices is the key to a positive birth experience - regardless of where you’re birthing and how you’re birthing.

2. What the hours after birth will look like.

When we think about birth preparation, we often forget about the first few hours after our baby is born. If you have a caesarean birth, it will take about 45 minutes for you to be stitched up before you are transferred to recovery where you’ll typically stay for about an hour. 

If you have a vaginal birth and your baby is well, you’ll be encouraged to have skin-to-skin before you birth the placenta and your baby has its first feed. In pregnancy, you can make a list of preferences for the hours after birth and include them in your birth plan. These may include your preferences for:

  • The third stage of labour (would you like to birth the placenta with or without medication?).

  • Skin to skin (your partner may want skin to skin if you can’t be with your baby).

  • Uninterrupted golden hour.

  • Delayed/optimal cord clamping.

  • Who will cut the cord.

  • Who will announce the sex of the baby.

  • Feeding your baby expressed colostrum or formula if you’re separated.

Listen to This Glorious Mess. Holly Wainwright joins Tegan to answer three anonymous questions from listeners, including if she wishes she had her kids at a different age and how becoming a parent has changed her. Post continues below.

3. The physical challenges and changes of postpartum.

If you’re pregnant for the first time, chances are that you’ve dreamt about what life with your new baby will be like but you may not have considered what the experience will entail for you. We don’t really think about postpartum because we rarely see it; it’s a transitional season of life that often happens behind closed doors. Until you’re in the midst of it, it’s hard to imagine the intricacies of the experience and the sheer amount of support you’ll need.

Planning for postpartum - for the joy, the love and the upheaval - is one of the most practical ways you can prepare for new parenthood. Simply put, it’s a great idea! Prioritise a planning session in pregnancy where you discuss:

  • Visitors: it's really important that you’re on the same page in regards to when you’ll invite family and friends over to meet your new baby. Hosting people is exhausting and regardless of the type of birth you have, you’ll generally be sore and achy with leaking breasts and significant sleep deprivation. Minimal visitors in the first few weeks will reduce stress, limit distractions and ensure you have the space and time to rest, heal, and bond with your baby. 

  • Food: ready-made meals are like gold to new parents. Generally new babies are quite fussy in the early hours of the evening. Just as you’re ready to make dinner, your little one will typically be unsettled and wanting to feed a lot which leaves you little to no time to cook. Filling the freezer with pre-made meals in pregnancy is a really practical step towards an easier postpartum - make a day of it!

  • Support: how do you want to be supported in the first few weeks? Outlining a list of jobs or chores that can be passed on to willing friends and family will ensure you get the support you want and need. It could be simple tasks like walking the dog or picking up groceries or for those people who are close to you and respect your boundaries, they may visit and cook and clean without overstaying their welcome.

4. Prioritising rest and support in the fourth trimester.

The fourth trimester is the first 12 weeks after birth. Prioritising rest, simplifying your schedule and continuing to accept offers of support is vital as you continue to heal from birth, establish a feeding rhythm with your baby, and adjust to life with less sleep. 

Bouncing back after birth is a dangerous myth that fails to acknowledge the enormous transition a woman goes through during pregnancy, birth and postpartum. How can you as a couple ensure that the transition into normal life is gentle and you can move forward feeling supported? Keep life simple. Don’t make too many plans and reach out to family and friends when you feel overwhelmed. 


5. How you’re going to keep the conversation flowing as you adjust to parenthood.

Up to one in five women may experience symptoms of anxiety, depression, or both during pregnancy and following birth. For men, recent research suggests that one in ten new fathers will experience depression and/or anxiety in the first year after their baby’s birth. 

Being honest about how you’re feeling is integral to your personal mental health and your relationship. In pregnancy you may like to make a promise that you’ll stay open about how you’re feeling about new parenthood once your baby arrives. If you notice that you or your partner are experiencing extended periods of sadness, anxiety or overwhelm that are lasting for more than a fortnight, it’s a really good idea to reach out for professional help. Create an action plan in pregnancy so the steps you need to take - seeing your GP for a mental health plan, finding a psychologist and prioritising exercise, rest, good food and conversation - don’t feel daunting. 

Sophie Walker is the founder and host of Australian Birth Stories podcast that has over 9.7 million downloads and is endorsed by the Australian College of Midwives. She also has a range of education resources available, including her online birth preparation course, The Birth Class. Every week on the podcast she shares an interview with a woman who steps into her most vulnerable space to detail all the precious details of her pregnancy, birth and postpartum experience. Each story is unique hence the podcast is an amazing education resource for pregnant women, their birth support partners and professionals working in perinatal health.

Feature Image: Getty

Do you often find you need a pick-me-up during the day? Take our survey now to go in the running to win a $50 gift voucher.