Many of us first-time parents tend to focus a lot on birth planning. We’ve never had an entire person emerge from inside our bodies, so naturally we want to have a bit of control over that process. We obsess about each stage of our pregnancy. We scope out doctors, midwives, and birth locations scrupulously. And then many of us make a birth plan, photocopy it, and hand it out to everyone who is even remotely involved with the upcoming birth of our child.
Soon enough, the baby is born, and it goes how it goes (birth plans are pretty awesome, but birth usually has its own plan, however much preparation we put into it). Then we realize something pretty startling: Postpartum is the hardest part of all, and we really should have had a damn plan for that.
Enter “The Baby Prenuptial.”
What, you may ask, is a baby prenuptial? Well, it’s basically just as it sounds. It’s a contract or list of responsibilities that the parents-to-be write up and agree upon prior to the birth of their child. Of course, not all of us have a partner (and those who are single mom-ing it from the beginning are the real MVPs). You can substitute “parent” with friend, grandma, or whatever works for you.
Now, the “baby prenup” is not an actual prenup. It not binding or written up by a lawyer. It’s similar to a birth plan, except it applies to the postpartum period and it’s between parents. It can be done by first or second time parents, and it’s really up to the parents to decide what goes on the list and how to figure that out.
“I remembered how exhausting and stressful it all was when we had our daughter, especially since I was breastfeeding and a lot fell on me,” says Melissa, a mom from Connecticut, who shared her “baby prenup” story with Parade.
“I consider myself a pretty organized person, so I decided to create a physical chore chart for my husband and I. We both sat down and divided up all the baby and household duties together,” she explained.
Totally awesome idea, right?
So what would go on a contract like this? Well, basically anything and everything you can think of. You can be very general, as in “You better freaking help me out once this baby arrives!” But it makes sense to me to be pretty specific.
After all, many of our spouses simply don’t get what caring for babies and households entails, at least not at first. And isn’t a main part of our problem that it’s a job in and of itself to remind our significant other to do stuff? A baby contract takes care of that too.
So, you can decide which one of you will be on diaper duty, who will be burping the baby, who will be taking out the diaper trash each day, who will be making pediatrician appointments, who will be doing the nighttime parenting, etc. You can also decide who will be sweeping the kitchen floor, fetching groceries, and scrubbing toilets.
It’s true that some of this stuff might not be able to be fully worked out until the baby is born, but it’s definitely something that can evolve. The point is that you have a system in place – and maybe most importantly, an understanding between you and your partner that each of you has equal responsibility in raising this kid – and that knowing what those responsibilities are is just as important as showing up to do them.
“The number one issue couples reach out to us for is communication,” Matt Lundquist, a psychotherapist for New York City, tells Parade. “Childcare is an area where couples often make assumptions – based on how they were raised or even an interpretation of things their partner has said or inferences based on a sense of who their partner is. A plan such as this – a contract – allows the opportunity to test those assumptions, to make them clear and bring attention sooner (pre-baby) to what might live in conflict.”
Let me just say, HELL YES!
I think part of the beauty of a pre-baby contract is that it ones up lines of communication between spouses, and it’s a conversation that can continue after the baby is born, and into the many years of parenting down the road. Just making the intention to be equal partners, and to guarantee a new mom that she is not in this alone, is huge in my book.
So let’s make this a thing, why don’t we? Moms should be able to go into the postpartum phase knowing that their partner truly has their back and that the burden of nearly everything doesn’t fall squarely on their shoulders. Initiating a conversation about a baby contract or agreement might feel awkward or uncomfortable, but the more of us who do it, the more normal it will become.
And maybe soon enough, the whole thing will be so normal that we won’t even have to be the ones initiating the idea, because having a solid and cooperative postpartum plan with our partner will be the most commonplace thing on earth. Imagine that.