Changes you and your partner may experience when you bring your baby home:
You may both experience sleep deprivation.
When you’re bringing your baby home for the first time, you’ll be tired. If the baby wakes up, you’ll probably wake up too. You’ll both have changes in your sleep routines.
You’ll have to navigate new roles and parenting duties.
You or your partner may need to be asking for help. With a new baby, there are more tasks on your daily to-do list. You’ll both have to make adjustments to prioritize what needs to be done.
Your identity changes.
Being a parent is part of your identity now. You may begin to feel differently about yourself and your values.
Your sex drive can change.
If you’re the partner who is carrying the child, your body will be going through many changes, even after childbirth. Along with physical changes, your stress levels will change. Your sleep patterns will change. With so many other factors, your sex drives are likely to change during this season.
You’ll get less one-on-one time with your spouse.
With a baby, your focus and your partner’s focus may naturally shift. As your focus and your schedule shifts, it may be difficult to get quality one-on-one time with each other.
Conflict with extended family can arise.
As family members may have different parenting styles and different ways of managing households, they might disagree with what you want to do. Family can be helpful, and these differences can also add stress. You and your partner may experience disagreements with family members.
You may experience mental health issues.
You may deal with post-partum depression or anxiety. Sometimes either or both parents can experience mental health issues upon having a child. It’s a big adjustment for each partner, and there are many factors that could contribute to depression and anxiety. If you’re experiencing this, know that you aren’t alone.
All of these potential changes can sound overwhelming, but know that you aren’t alone. And as you are on this journey, remember that it’s important to have a strong relationship with your partner, to be able to care for yourselves and each other.
What you both can do to care for yourselves and your relationship:
Be willing to compromise to support each other.
The laundry or dishes may not be done your way, but be willing to share the load and accept help as you both make adjustments.
Ask for help.
From your partner, your family, your friends. Find ways you can tag team to get rest. Ask for help with meals, housework, or whatever you need. Seek support, and remember that this is for a season.
Find mental space for yourself.
You may not have a lot of alone time or restful time. But as you’re in this season, find small times to sit with yourself. As your identity and your perspective may be changing, give yourself time to process this. Begin recognizing and working to accept the changes you’re experiencing. You may find time to do this while feeding the baby or during naptime. If you can get some help, take a few minutes and go for a walk around your neighborhood. Find some time to reflect on your own thoughts and feelings. Find peace
Schedule time to check in with your partner.
Even if just for a few minutes, keep the connection alive by talking with each other. If you can find time while the baby is resting, talk over coffee together, or find time to relax on the couch together.
Talk about what you each need and want.
Talking is especially important, because you also might not be having sex, or having the same physical relationship you’re used to. Even if it’s a small amount of time, keep that communication open so that you’ll continue to feel connected.
Speak up for yourself and your family.
Your family is you, your partner, and your child or children. Your extended family (parents, grandparents, in-laws, etc…) and your friends may want to help, and that’s wonderful. Be willing to accept help. And remember that you’re allowed to set boundaries and ask for what you need. You can say no to things that add more difficulty to your life in this season. Also remember that you and your partner are a team. Have the conversations that help you to find a middle ground and come to a place of agreement, so you can support each other and support your family.
Seek out healthy support and connection. Adjusting to having a child is a big stressor. You love your child, and it can still be stressful. If you begin to experience depression or anxiety or other mental health concerns along with this, please get help. Be open with your partner and your support system, and go to therapy.
Resources about bringing your baby home:
John Gottman and the Gottman Institute have studied couples and have great information about the effects of parenthood on marriage. https://www.gottman.com/blog/bringing-baby-home-the-research/
There are also workshops all across the country and internationally for parents. https://www.gottman.com/parents/new-parents-workshop/