Your relationship with your parter will be adjusting with the arrival of your baby. Going from a two person family unit to three or more also takes some adjusting to, especially when this impacts on the quality and quantity of time that you have for yourselves and each other. It is important to acknowledge the changes that come with having a new baby. Many of these changes will be happening to both parents, and you need to keep connecting.
For example, whilst for women there have already been some adjustments prior to and leading up to the birth, for some men the reality of having a baby begins at the birth, as you have not experienced first hand many of the changes that have already taken place with pregnancy.
It wasn’t until our baby was born and I held my son that it really hit me, that I’m a dad…before that it was all pretty surreal.
The arrival of your baby is also likely to mean that your partner seems overly focussed on the needs of the baby, and can cause partners to feel somewhat left out. The demands of a newborn and greater focus on parenting may leave your partner feeling overly tired, a loss of libido and she may feel depleted and unable to give more of herself to others at times.
Don’t take this personally, it is all part of meeting the demands at the time, and with time things should begin to settle down.
This is a great opportunity to discuss together how each of you may be involved in the baby’s care. If one parent is working, try and review what will give both parents the opportunity for quality time and contact with each other and with the baby. For example, if one baths your baby or takes your baby out for a walk – use this opportunity for some time for you, and see it as a benefit to all.
Some people feel that they do things ‘better’ or in a way that their baby will prefer or is used to. As a result however, this is likely to lead you left with doing most things, whilst also preventing your partner from gaining confidence and connecting with your child.
I just found myself doing everything because, well the baby was used to the way I did things…it was familiar to her.
Deep down I felt I knew our baby best. I spent the most time with her and grew to understand and respond to her needs better than anyone else. It wasn’t until we had more kids that I began to finally let go and let my partner do more of the hands-on stuff with the babies and learned that this was important for him, our babies and me.
If your partner does things differently from you, or you feel that he/she is not doing things as well, see this as a benefit for your baby, as it will in fact be stimulating their brain development and teaching them to also learn to adjust at an early age.
Your expectations about the expected level of help or involvement with the baby that you receive from your partner may differ from your reality. You may also feel that your partner lacks an understanding of your experience – particularly if their life has not undergone the same level of adjustment as yours.
This may lead to misunderstandings, misconceptions and feelings of frustration along the way – so open communication is especially important to help you gain insight into each others’ perspectives and needs. This includes, for example, feeling appreciated, respected and supported by each other, in your new roles as parents – as well as in your life more broadly.