With a new baby in the family there’s a lot of love in the air. The love you feel for your newborn will be unlike any love you’ve experienced before. It’s a warm, fuzzy kind of love that’s all consuming. And so it should be, it’s all part of the wonderful experience of motherhood. But while you gaze at your little one in adoration, spare a thought for your old flame for it was an act of love that created your baby in the first place!
It’s understandable that new dads can feel a little left out; after all, you are spending most of the night with your baby, rather than with him. Of course, having a baby can make you realise how much you love each other but new babies also put a lot of pressure on relationships. So, it’s all about discovering how to keep your love on track.
Everyone wants to play happy families but don’t panic if your relationship does come under strain with the arrival of your new baby – it’s totally normal! Studies show that welcoming the first baby to the family is the most testing part of a marriage. And it’s no surprise when you think that your lives have been turned upside down, you’re both sleep-deprived and your hormones are going crazy. You’d have to be superheroes not to get a little ratty with one another. So be prepared for changes in each other and realise it’s ok to feel as though you’re living on different planets. The time will come when you realise you do still fancy the pants of each other!
Have ‘couple’ time
Try not to let your relationship become entirely about your baby. Enjoy time with just the two of you, starting with dinner out once a week and building up to a weekend away. Arranging ‘dates’ together can also put the fun back into a relationship, whether you dress up for a long lunch together or enjoy an afternoon walk in the park. While you’ve got precious time to yourselves, don’t spend it discussing nappies, routines and weaning – talk about all the things you enjoyed nattering about before baby came along. Leave your baby with someone you trust so you’re not worrying about him rather than enjoying time with your partner. You can trade babysitting with fellow mums – if they look after your baby for an evening, you’ll look after theirs’ another time.
Remember the power of touch. Just little things like holding hands, a quick kiss, cuddle or back rub whenever you can, will remind you both what you mean to each other and ignite your sensual side. Simply making eye contact will make a difference. Looking into each other’s eyes as you say, ‘I love you,’ or as you kiss goodbye in the morning, emphasises how you feel about each other.
It’s inevitable that a new baby will put your sex life on hold. Most women find their libidos wane after birth, not to mention the fact you’ll be exhausted and spending more time with your baby than with your partner. Then there’s the breastfeeding boobs that don’t want to be fondled and, naturally, nervousness about your man going anywhere near your bits now you’ve pushed a baby out. But, of course, while your interest in sex seems to have vanished, your partner will most likely still want it. Not just from an Alpha male point of view, but also for the emotional connection and reassurance sex brings. There’s also a danger that the longer you leave it, the less you’ll feel the need for such intimacy in the long run.
However, it’s important not to push yourself. How long you wait before you rekindle your sex life depends on how you recover after the birth. Check with your GP at your six-week check that it’s safe to give sex a go. Go gently and, if penetrative sex is too uncomfortable at first, build up to it slowly. In time, you’ll feel comfortable with it again – many mums even say sex is far better after having a baby!
Ask for and accept help
We’ve all done it – pretending to be superwoman only to find ourselves burnt out by the end of the week. Now you have a baby it’s vital to remember to look after yourself, not only for your baby’s sake but for your own and your partner’s. Accepting help with housework, shopping or baby sitting, even if it’s just for an hour while you chill out in the bath, will make you a happier person and that will rub off on your relationship.
Communicate with each other
Listening and talking are key to a successful relationship. By confiding in your partner and explaining to him how he can help you with the new responsibilities will take weight off your shoulders and remind him that you need and love him. Likewise, you may have had a hard day at home with the baby but he may also have had a tough day at the office and need to off load on you. Communicating will also reduce the chances of you bickering with each other.
When you’re both tired it’s no surprise to find yourselves arguing more. It can be hard in the heat of the moment but take a deep breath and remind yourself your irritability is caused by hormones and sleep deprivation – it’s unlikely to mean your relationship is in crisis. Likewise, make allowances for your man’s unreasonableness – he’s feeling the strain too.
Avoid playing the one-upmanship game with responsibilities and emotions. “My day’s been harder than your day,” quips will only make matters worse. It may help to make a list of responsibilities and divide jobs, both baby related and otherwise, between you.