How Having a Baby Can Affect Your Relationship
When you become a parent, you and your partner will undergo changes that you might not have been able to foresee. No matter how prepared you are, there are always aspects of parenting that come as a surprise. Babies inevitably change the dynamic of a relationship, in both challenging and wonderful ways.
Sleep is perhaps the most obvious change that will take place in your relationship. Babies, especially newborns, require round the clock care, and the parents’ sleep schedule is therefore interrupted. Lack of sleep can cause irritability and make it difficult to concentrate. You may find yourself snapping at your partner or arguing over what would normally be small decisions.
One strategy for getting as much sleep as possible is for you and your partner to switch off. It may seem like a good bonding opportunity for both parents to be up with the baby at night, but trading responsibilities can give you more quality time together. Some parents have the mother breastfeed the baby during the night, and then have the father take care of the baby during the daytime so the mother can nap.
Intimacy will undoubtedly change between you and your partner, at least for a while. Many new mothers find that they aren’t as interested in being intimate, because it’s hard to balance feeling sexually attractive and feeling like a parent. The mother has also undergone natural, physical changes that may temporarily cause pain or cause her to feel self-conscious about her appearance.
Keep lines of communication open between you, so that each partner knows why the other isn’t interested in intimacy at that time. When you’re not physically intimate, you’ll want to plan quality time together, even if it is just for 20-minute intervals. Go for a walk, hold hands, or schedule a babysitter in order to see a movie. Physical intimacy will resume in time, and in the meantime, you can do other activities to feel connected.
Since babies take up so much time, you’ll probably find that your house gets a little messy, even if you normally keep it very clean. Especially with the sleep deprivation, couples find that they snap at each other about household responsibilities. New parents can set up a time to discuss household chores while the baby is sleeping. In order to resolve conflict and avoid shifting blame, come up with a list of chores and decide who is responsible for which. Ideally, this list should be realistic and allow for some flexibility. Post your list in a convenient location, like on the refrigerator.
It’s important to cut yourselves some slack while caring for a new baby. Praise yourself and your partner for accomplishments, both large and small.
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