How To Realistically Reconnect With Your Partner After Baby Arrives
A pregnancy! A baby! A birth! All these exciting milestones take focus for a couple who are going to have a baby. The nursery colours, the birthing classes, which car seat to buy? There is so much to think about before the baby arrives, leaving very few couples time to think about what actually having a baby may do to their relationship. While there is definitely more love to go around when a family expands, couples often find themselves in a post-baby slump. Their “us time” is virtually non-existent anymore while every ounce of energy is devoted to the new baby. Feelings of resentment may start to appear and loneliness may creep in as the focus of the relationship has naturally shifted. This is not doom-and-gloom, this is reality. But it doesn’t have to be your reality.
Among the chaos and beauty of bringing a newborn home, how can you realistically reconnect with your partner after your baby has arrived?
Talk about your feelings. Bringing a newborn into your lives can be a stressful time for many parents. Throw in the exhaustion, the recovery, the adjustment to a new reality and you may find yourself feeling overwhelmed and alone.
Make sure to talk about it all. Share your fears, thoughts and worries with your partner so that you both feel secure and supported. You’ve both been cast into new roles that come with many new feelings and adjustments. So make sure to express them.
Many professionals recommend that new couples avoid discussing two topics: work and the baby. Doing this can add pressure to your conversations and make you feel like you have nothing else to discuss as a couple. Realistically, at the moment you are all-consumed by your new baby, so it’s okay to talk about the baby. It is always okay to talk about your baby. It’s also okay not to want to talk about your baby. Find what works for you as a couple, but keep the communication doors open all the time.
Communicate constantly. Very often, couples expect each other to be mind readers. An experience for one partner may not be the same for the other, and so this can lead to feelings of resentment, loneliness and misunderstanding. Make sure to tell your partner your needs, explain how your partner can help you with housework, settling the baby, feeding the baby and so on. Try not to expect your partner to “just know” what you need or how you feel.
This is a new journey for you both, and a really big adjustment. Remember, you’re a team and you need to figure this out together.
Send lovey-dovey messages to your partner so that they know you’re on their mind. It’s easy to lose grip on the effort you put into your relationship when a new baby arrives. Suddenly all your time is consumed by nappy changes, bottle feeds or breastfeeding, constant settling your baby, short-lived naps and piles of laundry that never seem to end. Your energy, time and effort is all going towards your little bundle, leaving very little to give to your partner. While this is completely natural, it’s important to notice when this happens. Couples can remedy the gap that may begin to form between them by noticing it when it starts, and doing small things to remind each other that the love is still very much there.
Send a message, an email, write a sticky note, make a cup of coffee, give a quick foot rub, order their favourite take outs or do a quick online shop to get a little surprise for them, as ways to remind them that you’re still utterly lovestruck with them.
Take the pressure off. You might hear people saying things like “schedule date night” or “make time for each other when the baby is asleep”, but realistically a new baby doesn’t come with much consideration for time. Baby’s need their caregivers constantly, and this is so normal. If you want to aim for a date night, try it. But if you’re interrupted by your baby and it doesn’t work out try not to let it upset you or your partner. Move the date night to another time or take it to the baby’s room and sit together while you change the nappy or feed. This is where you need to be right now, remember: this season will pass.
Instead of scheduling a whole date night, try doing little things together like having a glass of wine, or lying in bed listening to your wedding song while you both close your eyes. Those little moments of connection can be even more effective than a scheduled date night.
Admire your work. Spend time together marvelling over your little masterpiece. After all, this little person is something that both of you are responsible for; something you both deeply love. You can connect to your partner by connecting to your baby together.
Involve your partner in feeding time. If you bottle feed, then you can share the load and even sit together while baby feeds. If you’re breastfeeding, ask your partner to sit with you, have a cup of tea together, let your partner read you a story or rub your tired feet. Use the feeding time where you are alone (and let’s face it - breastfeeding can be lonely) to connect with each other.
While many of us hope that “we’ll never be those parents” (the ones who bicker, the ones who look too tired, the ones who don’t socialise anymore), the reality is that when a new baby arrives our world is shaken to its core. We need our partners to hold us and we need to hold our partners. We need to work at maintaining a relationship of honesty, love and understanding as best we can.
But most of all, we need to give our relationship grace.
This time in our lives is challenging, beautiful and wild.
Make sure to hold your partner’s hand throughout it.