November 7, 2016
Having a new baby is wonderful, but it can also be very stressful. It opens your heart in new and unexpected ways, and also completely turns your world upside down. Many couples weather these changes and stressors to their life and relationship, but it doesn't mean it's always easy! Here are four things I know about your relationship with your partner after having a baby:
And that's ok! You and your partner may have always had some (or even a lot) of differences when it comes to personality and the way you handle even the most simple of day-to-day things. There is nothing quite like having a baby, though, to really bring those differences out and to a head. After all, now you both have this beautiful child you love fiercely, and also feel a deep sense of responsibility toward.
Remember that having different opinions and styles is normal. Also, just because your partner does things differently, doesn't mean that he or she is wrong, or that he or she thinks YOU are wrong either! Learning to acknowledge these differences, and the emotions that they might evoke in you, is the first step to finding some peace.
When a new baby is here, every decision feels like a big decision. This can really heighten that sense of frustration if you and your partner are on a different page. Where should the baby sleep? How do you put him or her to sleep? When and how do you feed the baby? It all feels very important, because your baby is important, especially to you and your partner. Add in sleep deprivation and you sometimes have a recipe for difficulty!
It is important to take the long view here. Yes, there are safety and health concerns to take into consideration, but in the longterm, what will allow your family to function at it's best? With some creativity and flexibility, there is almost always a solution that can honor the physical and emotional needs of your baby, as well as the physical and emotional needs of both of the parents. Because really, you are all important.
A postpartum doula can provide you with the objective, third-party information, and help you to navigate both of your desires and thoughts to find that solution that works for everyone if needed.
After a new baby is born, it's easy to forget that you and your partner are also, in some senses, being reborn too. Not into new people, but into a new role, and that can certainly bring out a new or different side in you. It can be both wonderful- "I have never seen him so sweet and tender until he held our daughter for the first time!" - and terrifying- "He is suddenly so overprotective, and it's driving me nuts!"
Give yourself and your partner time. Time to explore and come into these new roles as parents. Time settle into all of the new emotions, feelings, and instincts that may be coming up. Time to work out new methods of communication. You will all settle in as time goes on, and you will find your new groove, together.
If you are struggling to know what are normal growing pains in your relationship after baby, be sure to seek out professional help. Whether it is to gain a few more tools for communication, or even to give you and your partner the dedicated time and space you deserve to really talk through the big issues, it doesn't mean that you and your partner are doomed. We all sometimes just need a little bit of extra support to get back onto a smooth track, and having a baby is certainly one of those life events that requires all the extra support you can get!