Parents in Action: Preparing your relationship for a new baby
11:00 AM, Jun 27, 2013
Expectant parents spend a lot of time preparing for the arrival of their baby. By the time they bring their little one home, they've taken classes, read a hundreds of books, and bought enough onesies to fill an entire dresser. But even with all the preparation, the reality of caring for a baby can be overwhelming.
When your household grows from two to three, your relationship with your partner is bound to change. Here are some ways to get a handle on what to expect:
At first, your newborn may only sleep for a few hours at a time, and when they are up a parent is up, resulting in sleep deprivation which can make you irritable and turn tasks like household chores and errands into ordeals because you have less energy and can't concentrate. You'll also have less time for work, for yourself, and for your partner. Creating a schedule that works with both parents schedule is a must. Schedule naps if you need to so that you can keep from becoming sleep deprived. Trade babysitting with friends and neighbors to allow time to catch up on tasks or sleep.
Being a new parent is wonderful, but at times it can be really difficult and stressful, too. This can generate feelings of guilt for a mom or dad who isn't enjoying every second of being a new parent. But it's important to remember that it's OK to want and to take a break from the baby when you need it. Weekly dates without the baby will help you and your partner stay connected.
A baby can also stir up surprising feelings of jealousy. Sometimes new dads get jealous because the baby takes up so much of mom's time. Dad may feel like a third wheel, or maybe he's jealous that he doesn't get to spend as much time with the baby or do as much of the parenting. These feelings are completely normal when the structure of a family changes so drastically. Communication and understanding are so important when emotions run high.
Even without all the outside parenting advice, you and your partner may realize you have different approaches to parenting one of you might be more inclined to pick up the baby whenever he or she cries while the other lets your little one cry for a while, for instance. And trouble spots in a relationship, such as who does more work around the house, can get worse if new parents don't sit down and talk about what's bothering them. Establish house rules and boundaries ahead of time to prevent disagreements later.
Moms have their own challenges to confront. Pregnancy temporarily robs them of the bodies they're used to; a couple of extra pounds and dark circles under the eyes from late-night feedings can make a woman feel self-conscious and less attractive to her partner. Some moms also find it difficult to reconcile the image of a mother with that of a sexual woman, so they may be less interested in intimacy. Take time to take care of you. If mom isn't happy and healthy it's hard for the family to be happy and healthy.