The moment we find out we are pregnant, priorities change for each spouse and relationship. Many couples experience a shift in activities they can or want to do, resulting many times in complete lifestyle changes—-like when the ear pumping club stops sounding so exciting (LOL!)…. maybe because preggers mommy-to-be can’t keep her eyes open past 9:30 pm (You are making a whole human being inside of you, after all) or you are both too tired after working on the nursing room.
Late night outings are replaced with the many things we have to do to prepare for the welcoming of our baby, especially when it’s our first child. The list of things we need to get, the baby shower to plan, the nursery room, the countless baby classes to make sure we know what to do the day of the delivery and soon after that…. It can all be very time-consuming, exciting and at times anxiety provoking.
The good news is that getting ready to have a baby, can be a time where couples experience closeness as there are so many things to work on together. All these projects to work on during the 9 months of pregnancy are a common goal.
Then bam! The baby is here.
Feed, change diapers, rock to sleep… Repeat cycle in full effect
At this stage, you might be wondering, where does time go?
Here is what to watch out for. When one is tired, overwhelmed, and running on empty, negative focus may turn towards the partner. A cycle of blaming may start or of comparing who is doing more or has more on their plate.
Sounds like fun, right?
As such, this can result in a period of dissatisfaction. Statistics show 2/3 of couples feel dissatisfied with their marriage with the birth of their newborn.
Does this mean that children ruin relationships?
Absolutely not! Divorce does not happen more to couples with children. So, it must be then because couples just stick together for the children, right?
While some couples do stay together for the children despite their dissatisfaction, it doesn’t mean that having children equates to marital dissatisfaction. It simply means that the couple was not able to overcome the transition of having children or old relationship problems that existed before the children came along, were magnified due to the added stress of having small children.
So why is that number so high?
Couples go through a lot of changes when they have a newborn. When your child is born, your role of parent is also born. You were only spouses before the birth of your child, and now you have to learn how to parent as well.
Learning how to co-parent, while still nurturing the marriage is the key. Couples that know this from the get-go, do not report dissatisfaction. Some, take a minute to adjust and become satisfied sometime after the baby is born. What to look out for is when we get stuck in a cycle of dissatisfaction where disconnection increases.
Here are tips to help you manage the waters of having a newborn:
Research shows that learning about the changes we can expect with a newborn in the relationship, helps decrease dissatisfaction. Basically, when we know what to expect, our mindset is more positive. That makes sense right? So what do you have to know? Read the next tips 🙂
Arrange self-care times. There will be less time for everything, including personal care. Have you seen those memes on social media of how a mom dreams of being able to go to the bathroom alone? Yes, that’s a reality, LOL! Have an open conversation as a couple where you can both have time alone to recharge and be the best parent and spouse you can be.
Explore parenting goals and dreams: While you are pregnant or if you’ve recently had a baby, its helpful to talk about what you expect of yourself as a new parent, and of your partner. Share these thoughts and try to arrive to an understanding on how to fulfill each others parenting dreams.
Communicate, communicate, communicate. Create a habit to talk daily on how things are going, ideally a safe conversation where it is allowed to vent about the struggles of adapting to the new role of parenting. Find ways to help each other with your struggles when needed.
Manage expectations: A very helpful thought to have during big transitions in life is that everyone is going through the change and probably doing the best that they can. Giving the benefit of the doubt to our partner allows us to be open to asking for things, and avoid assuming that our partner is not willing to help or participate.
Refuel as a couplet back on dates: After the initial weeks of adapting and recovering from birth, it is helpful to make time for the relationship. Think of trustworthy people who can watch the baby for a few hours to be able to break away as a couple from the demands of parenting. This is a way to keep desire and romance going.
Re-engage sexually: It is a process to adjust to sex after birthing for many couples, so approach it with kindness and compassion. Your Ob-Gyn will let you know when you can engage in sexual activity. In the meantime, and until you are both ready, find ways to be physically connected and increase affection to allow space for sex to be part of your relationship again.
Monitor your emotional state. Experiencing baby blues is common, and it is a period that usually lasts 2-3 weeks. This is due to the major adjustment of hormones that happen after birth. However, it is important to watch out for other maternal mental health concerns. Statistics show 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression, anxiety, OCD, or psychosis. By the way, dads may experience some of these things, too. As such, is helpful to be proactive and monitor your emotional state as a couple.
Congratulations on your baby!
Your Therapy Friend,
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