Having a baby is typically one of the happiest times in a couple’s lives, but also one of the most transformative experiences a couple will go through. No longer is a couple focused only on each other, but now are responsible for the care of a newborn. While this can bring great joy, it can also cause relationship stress as couples relearn what their role in the family is and how to cope with the changes that happen as a result.
Many couples find that having a baby brings them closer together and allows them to take a team approach to caring for their baby. Mom may be responsible for feeding the baby, while dad is responsible for diaper changes, burping, and settling the baby. This teamwork can begin during pregnancy as couples attend birthing classes and breastfeeding classes together. Couples are able to learn together and begin to make decisions about how they want to care for their baby. If a couple has differing opinions on how to care for their baby, it is important to discuss their differences and how they can come to a compromise.
It is vital for partners to communicate how they are feeling and be patient with one another as they adjust to being new parents. Planning ahead and putting some money aside during pregnancy can offset money concerns that may come up while one partner stays home with the baby. Getting a good night’s sleep or even a few hours in a row can make a huge difference in one’s outlook and attitude. Couples may take turns with the baby while the other sleeps or another family member such as the baby’s grandma or aunt may offer to come over to help out.
Couples may notice changes in their relationship with their partner as a result of becoming parents. With many moms breastfeeding, it can be a challenge for dads to figure out where they fit in the relationship. Moms can be aware of this and make sure dad is provided with opportunities to hold and interact with the baby, and dads can be involved by becoming breastfeeding savvy and offering support and encouragement for moms. Couples will often feel like they don’t have as much time together as they did before the baby. This can be remedied by sitting together when the baby is feeding, taking walks together and holding hands, and having simple “date nights” at home until they feel ready to go out with their new baby.
Adjusting to having a newborn can be overwhelming, but couples should try to enjoy all the little moments of becoming a new family. Recognizing that changes will happen and communicating through them will make a difference.
~Becky Franzen, IBCLC, CLC