As seasons change, so do the seasons in our relationships. Change in your relationship after having a baby is inevitable. Mindfully navigating change after having a baby is the saving grace you and your partner need. It will help you navigate the challenges with confidence, with less judgement of one another and far greater empathy. In doing this, the challenges become more bearable, and the joys double. Let’s look at some changes you can expect in your relationship after having a baby.
Lack of sleep: One of the most significant changes new parents experience is the lack of sleep. A newborn requires constant care and attention and is still learning to regulate and sleep. This can lead to sleep deprivation for both parents. This can cause irritability, mood swings, and decreased patience, which can strain the relationship.
- Navigating the change: It is essential to acknowledge that lack of sleep is temporary and prioritise caring for each other’s needs to get through this challenging phase. Take turns or get help from family or a professional sleep consultant.
Changing roles and how you engage: Another change after having a baby is shifting roles and responsibilities within the relationship. The new duties of being a parent can lead to an uneven distribution of tasks, creating resentment and frustration.
- Navigating the change: It is crucial to communicate openly and regularly to ensure that both partners feel heard and supported. Partners can list tasks and divide them based on their strengths and availability. It’s irrefutable that moms are the primary caregivers most of the time. Dads, make sandwiches or take on some cooking, even though your wife may have previously done this. Moms, ask for help – your partner cannot read your mind, and although it may seem logical to you, it still needs to be articulated. Talk…talk a lot and listen to your partner from a place of empathy, not competition or judgement.
Money matters: Yes, money matters way more than you thought possible. The cost of having a baby can also put a strain on the relationship. From medical bills to childcare expenses, the financial burden can be overwhelming.
- Navigating the change: Remember you’re on the same side and not alone. Approach the situation knowing you’re in it together and want what’s best for your family. Be realistic, face your bank balance, draw up that budget and be honest with one another.
What’s s*x got to do with it? Well, a lot, actually. With a new baby in the house, your partner having completed a marathon childbirth whose body is still recovering, and much less sleep for both of you, expect less intimacy. The demands of childcare and lack of sleep can leave both of you feeling exhausted and uninterested in physical intimacy.
- Navigating the change: Communicating openly about each other’s needs and making time for intimacy when possible is essential. Partners can schedule date nights, call in that favour from a cousin or bestie to look after your little one for a couple of hours or hire a babysitter to have some alone time. (P.S. Dads, mom will feel “over-touched” with breastfeeding or just having a baby on her and in her arms all the time, so it really isn’t you when she doesn’t want to be touched).
Not talking enough: Lack of sleep, changing roles, and financial changes can lead to communication issues in your relationship.
- Navigating the change: Over-communicate to avoid unnecessary misunderstandings. Partners can set aside time daily to talk and listen to each other without distractions.
Embrace the change. Sit with your feelings and reframe your perspective with a healthy dose of self-care. Change requires vulnerability. We love this truth from Very Well Family: “For many couples, the arrival of a child can be a catalyst for deeper intimacy and closeness. The shared experience of caring for a new life and the increased communication and support that comes with the territory can strengthen a couple’s bond immeasurably.”