Expectant parents spend months preparing for the arrival of their baby. By the time they bring their little one home, they’ve taken classes and read a library’s worth of books. But even with all the preparation the reality of caring for a baby can be overwhelming.
When your family 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 when you have your baby.
Before, you were a couple now you’re parents. How will your life change?
• To start with the obvious, you probably won’t get enough sleep in the early months of your baby’s life. At first your newborn may only sleep for a few hours at a time and when your tiny bundle is up, you’re up. The resulting sleep deprivation 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.
• Being a new parent is wonderful, but at times it can be really difficult and stressful. This can generate many different feelings. It’s common for new moms and dads to feel guilty when they’re not enjoying every second of being a new parent. But it’s important to remember that it’s ‘OK’ to want and need to take a break from the baby every once in a while.
• 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.
• 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. Some moms also find it difficult to reconcile the image of a mother with that of a woman, so they may be less interested in intimacy.
• The changes brought by a baby reach beyond your immediate family. Suddenly, relatives and even acquaintances have endless stories and advice about child rearing. Family members may drop by unexpectedly or schedule regular visits to see your baby.
• Even without all the outside parenting advice, you and your partner might realize you have different approaches to parenting. Ex: 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.
How to handle the changes
• Communication & Understanding: Communication is the best tool to defuse anger and prevent arguments. Parents can get so caught up in caring for the baby that they forget to take time to talk to each other. Small annoyances grow when you don’t get them out in the open. Therefore it’s important to make time to communicate.
• Handling Conflicts: When disagreements arise, make time to discuss them. If that approach simply won’t work, and you both need to clear the air right away, try to keep the argument focused on the issue that’s bothering you. Tell your partner clearly why you’re upset. If you’re vague or make your partner guess you probably won’t resolve anything
• Finding Time Together: Even though your baby has made you a family of three, the two of you still need time together as a couple to keep that relationship strong. Because your lives are busier now, the best way to find that time is to plan for it. Try to make a regular weekly “date”. Schedule a sitter /family member and head out to dinner or a movie. If you don’t want to or can’t leave the baby just yet, make a special dinner at home or order in your favourite food after you put the baby to bed.