Re: What kind of parenting/responsibility issues should my partner and I talk about and figure out before the baby comes?
That is a wonderful question and one that not many couples think about prior to their child being born. It is very helpful to discuss any issues that may cause stress in the future; for example, deciding how you will handle the first days home from the hospital. The initial weeks after birth can be very stressful for new parents, especially if they are fighting over who does what. Speak to your partner before the birth and establish both a "parental plan," as well as a "parental philosophy" that will be used throughout your years as parents.
In your parental plan, roughly assign who is going to do what tasks. If one of you can deal with very little sleep, perhaps they are the one to do the most night feedings. If you create a plan beforehand, things will run much smoother during the coming weeks knowing Mom is on 7-3 a.m. and Dad is going to take 3 a.m., because he can function better on no sleep. If the reverse is true, then obviously the parental plan will be flipped. Also, think about getting some support so both you and your husband are able to take some time for yourselves during the first few months.
Establishing a parental philosophy will help you deal with issues such as "Do we let the baby sleep in our bed?" or "Do we want to use a pacifier?" or "Should we let the baby cry at a certain point?" It is important to speak about your experiences and values, and how they will translate into your parenting. This will become even more helpful when you tackle issues such as discipline, chores, and house schedules. Knowing what you each believe in will allow you to formulate more clearer and more realistic expectations regarding how you will interact with your children.