PSA: Baby Prenups Are a Thing

The oldest of my three children was a terrible sleeper. Since I was nursing, I handled all of her night feedings and then my husband and I agreed to take turns trying to get her to go back to sleep. Somehow, on many of my husband’s turns, he didn’t hear her crying ( although, I am pretty sure he was just pretending to sleep through those wails) and I would have to (not so) lightly to nudge him to get up and care for our daughter.

It is because I vividly recall those sleepless nights that when I heard about “baby-nups,” I didn’t immediately laugh off the idea. According to Parade Magazine, baby nups are becoming very popular with expectant parents. Like a “prenup” a baby nup is a document that is formed in advance of an event (in this case, a baby’s birth) to avoid miscommunication between partners. Similar to a child’s chore chart, a baby nup outlines how they will divide up household chores and childcare responsibilities when the baby is born.

Why have a “Baby-nup”?

Eirene Heidelberger, a certified parent coach and founder and CEO of GIT Mom, a coaching service for moms, says, “Most parents cannot understand how much their lives will change from this little nugget. They look at Instagram and they see their beautiful, pristine nursery and they think that parenting is going to be glorious and picture-perfect.”

That’s why Heidelberger thinks a baby nup is a great idea for both first-time parents and for parents who are adding to their brood. Although not usually a legal contract, Heidelberger says, “A baby nup starts the important conversation between parents about the lifestyle changes that will occur when a new baby arrives on the scene. It allows both partners to discuss their expectations before the hormones and the sleep deprivation sets in.”

What should a “Baby-nup” include?

Heidelberger suggests you lay out guidelines for:

Hospital rules: Who will be allowed to visit when the baby is born and who will act as a gatekeeper to stop unwanted visitors?

In-laws: Even the most harmonious families can have strife and discord when a new baby arrives. A baby nup can outline how much in-laws can visit, what can be posted on social media, etc.

Sleep/night feeding schedule: Even if a mother is nursing, dad can still play a role in nighttime routines to help mom get some shut-eye

No asking when mom is “getting back in shape.” Enough said.

Meal prep, laundry, food shopping, etc.

In addition to dividing up childcare and chores fairly, Heidelberger says that a baby-nup can help couples make sure that both partners get alone time. She explains, “A new baby can be all-consuming and it’s easy to feel lost in a sea of poopy diapers. A baby nup should non-negotiables each partner needs to feel like themselves. For example, writing down ‘I get to go to Barry’s Bootcamp and you can play an hour of tennis with your friends’, allows both partners to get some much needed ‘me’ time.”

How it works

Mother Melissa Biggs feels a baby nup is a good idea. In her interview for the Parade Magazine article, Biggs stated, “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.” An organized person, Biggs decided to create a list of jobs for both her husband and herself for them to take care of their home and their children. Biggs said, “I listed all the chores we had and assigned a name to each one and hung it on our fridge. We both signed it so we knew we would stick to it, no excuses

But do you really need it?

Of course not. Everyone’s pregnancy, birth, and parenting experiences and opinions are different, and not everyone is a fan of the “baby-nup” concept. The argument against it is that people who feel mature enough to bring a child into the world should be mature enough to divide up baby care and household duties equitably without the need a signed piece of paper between them. Danielle Stilwell gave birth to her first child four months ago and she does not have a baby nup. Stilwell explains, “When we took our wedding vows, we agreed to be partners in all aspects of our life together. Our child is our shared responsibility. There may be days where I do more than he does but there may also be days he does more than me. It’s a team effort and a respect for one another.” Kristy Jones, a mother of three, also did see the need to draw up a baby nup with her husband. Jones says, “I did make it clear that I didn’t make them myself so I won’t raise them by myself. Daddy does the bottles and diapers. He will do baths if I can’t, like when I hurt my knee or at the end of my pregnancy. With three kids under 5 years old, we divide and conquer.”

While I admit a baby nup does sound a little silly, so does pretending to be asleep so that your partner gets up to take care of the baby. Perhaps if my husband and I had implemented one, we could have avoided some arguments in those early months of parenthood. Heidelberger says, “A baby nup is a proactive way to decide how to equitably share the responsibilities of a new baby and avoid building up animosity between partners especially during those stressful early months of parenthood.”

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