In all the preparation for her arrival we never really talked about what was going to happen to us. Our identities as individuals and as a couple changed overnight. Someone once told me that becoming a parent for the first time is like throwing your life up in the air and catching the tiny bits on the way down. This is an understatement.
There are some very beautiful, joyous things that fall into place and some very difficult struggles to navigate. Becoming a parent highlights all of the rough spot on the relationship, the stuck points, the places where communication could be better, then it lights it on fire. It crazy hard. Its also totally worth it.
So coming out of the cloud now I want to share a little insight as to how to survive.
- communicate less – about 50% of couples find this
- have more relationship stress than usual, and some relationship changes, including with family and friends
- report less time and less energy for sexual closeness
- experience more relationship conflict after the first few months
Allow yourself to have feelings. You’ll have lots of new feelings. There’ll be some amazing highs, and, yes, some lows. You might be on an emotional seesaw during the first months. You’ll probably feel more tired than you’ve ever felt before, and you could be a bit stressed too.
Be realistic. Sleep deprived and overwhelmed making decisions hell even doing the dishes can be difficult. Be honest about what you think you can do and not do in your home and for your partner.
Ask for what you need. Now is not the time to do it all yourself. If you need a snack while you breastfeed the baby ask.
Give your relationship some breathing room. Know that for 6-8 weeks after baby you will struggle. It’s normal. Try to find time to talk things over and be a couple again, even if it is just for a few minutes. You might even have to schedule in a time when you are both available. Choose a time when your newborn baby and other children are well-fed and settled. This may be difficult when your baby is just a newborn but should become easier as they get older.
Sometimes your partner will have different ways of doing things, allow them to spend time their way with the babe. It is also possible for your partner to feel isolated and left out. All of the sudden they have to compete for your attention. Jealousy is not all abnormal. It will pass.
If your currently pregnant take some time now to talk about your expectations of each other as parents, of your relationship, your sex life. Let it all hang out. If you have a solid foundation as to where your partner is coming from you are less likely to react when it comes up after baby arrives. Also make a TON of freezer meals and snacks. You will both need to eat and that can be challenging with a newborn.
Most of all BREATHE. A LOT. Take a moment when you can. Enjoy the joyous moments and celebrate them together and in the rough spots trust that you will make it out the other side.
Doula and Counsellor, Sisterhood Wellness Collective, Toronto