Why do relationships change after having a baby?

9 Jul 2020

New baby, new you, new everything

Parenting can really change a relationship. After all the process, you’re stressed out, you don’t have enough hours of sleep, and you just can’t prioritize your partner anymore, at least not as long as you have a newborn to care for.

This sounds very familiar, especially when you’re already dealing with so many changes. But it’s helpful to know that many of the ways your relationship is changing are totally normal and that there are things you can do to overcome them.

These are some of the most common ways that couple relationships change after parenthood.

1. Communication becomes transactional

When caring for a newborn, you often don’t have the time or energy to do all the things that keep a relationship strong and solid.

Relationships thrive with the quality of time people spend together, connecting and listening to each other. We need to make it a priority, not the baby’s first 6 weeks of life, but after that time, we need to reserve time for the partner, even if it is little, to connect one with the other without talking about the child.
This can mean logistical planning, such as getting a babysitter, having a family member care for the baby, or planning to spend time together after the baby goes to bed at night.

This is much easier said than done, but even a short walk around the block or dining together on a daily basis can be a great help for couples to improve their communication.

2. You miss the spontaneous nature of your old self (and that’s okay)

Creating that connection will probably seem very different after having a child. Surely the plans that were spontaneous before, like going out at night, trying a restaurant or spending the weekend together, will now be different.

But now, the feeling of spontaneity that tends to keep relationships exciting is practically out of place. And just preparing for an excursion requires logistical planning and preparation (baby bottles, diaper bags, babysitters, and much more).

A good idea is to have a period of mourning in which you say goodbye to your old, looser life and create strategies to think of ways to connect, in some way, with your old life. Taking 15 minutes every day to talk about anything, avoiding baby related issues or logistical details is a very healthy habit. Try doing new things together: skydiving is not necessary, you can just try a new restaurant or see an exhibition. Trying new things reminds us of our pre-baby life.

3. Baby blues are real, and they make everything more difficult

And can we talk about postpartum emotions? Even if you don’t have postpartum depression or anxiety, you’re likely to experience a roller coaster of emotions: 80 percent of gestational mothers experience baby blues. Let’s not forget parents who may also have postpartum depression.

So, among the hormonal changes, sleep deprivation, and stress that comes with a newborn baby, it’s no wonder you find yourself arguing with your partner and putting her at the bottom of your priority list.

These symptoms must be temporary; If they don’t seem to be getting better, talk to your doctor right away. And in the meantime, do whatever you can to try to kindly communicate with your partner.

4. Sex: what sex?

When it comes to sex, you have everything we’ve talked about against you so far. You don’t have time, your body is a mess and you are upset with your partner.
Also, being covered in saliva and changing 12 dirty diapers a day doesn’t really put you in the mood. If you are breastfeeding, you may experience vaginal dryness, which means that your desire is probably low. But sex can be a wonderful way to reconnect and spend a little time with your partner.

Remember: when it comes to sex, it’s okay to take it easy. Just because the doctor gave you the green light doesn’t mean you have to be in a hurry.

To get back to normal in bed, couples need to take time to have sex and find ways to do it when their child is at home, such as during naps.
And definitely invest in a little lubricant.

5. Splitting responsibilities is not easy

In any relationship, one person may feel more pressure to take on more parenting responsibilities than the other. That can leave that person feeling resentful towards the other.

Even if one of the partners is not trying to leave a certain duty to the other person, such as getting up with the baby in the middle of the night, it can happen. This is where clear and friendly communication is important. Having conversations sitting down to decide how to handle parenting tasks can be very helpful and avoid arguments.

6. Lack of time for yourself

Your time together not only changes once you have children, but so does your free time. In fact, you may not have any.

It is important to reflect on the time you need to take care of yourself and help the other take care of yourself.It is good to want time for yourself, go to the gym or see friends. Self-care is essential.

That rest and the time to feel more like yourself can be a great help to become good companions and parents.

7. Having a child makes you stronger

Despite all the hard knocks that a relationship may experience after having a child, many people report that their bond becomes stronger and deeper. After all, you are no longer just two, you are now a family, and if you can work through the difficult things, you will be building a strong foundation to help you overcome the ups and downs of parenthood.

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