Staying connected after having a baby
There are few certainties in life, but there’s one in particular that many say is an undisputed truth: having a baby changes everything.
The first year of parenting can put a lot of strain on a couple’s relationship, according to the NTC, a UK charity for parents. In early findings from their ongoing study, First 1,000 Days, many new dads reported both positive and negative changes in their relationship with their partner, including a closer bond, but also more conflict and arguing.
Thankfully, there are ways that can help you stay connected with your other half after having a baby, even when you feel like you’re running on fumes.
Be sure to communicate
Around a quarter of new fathers in the First 1,000 Days study felt there had been a notable increase in arguments and conflict since their baby arrived, with 19 per cent of dads saying that increased tiredness was affecting their moods and their partner’s moods.
Just how much sleep you get will often be out of your control – it’s generally dictated by your baby! – but you do still have some control over how you communicate.
Talk to your partner before the baby is born and discuss how you think you’ll deal with any increased pressure and the lack of sleep. Of course, your ‘best laid plans’ may go out the window once your baby actually arrives, but having a solid basis pre-baby and getting on the same page may make all the difference as to how you cope as a couple.
Make the most of the small moments
Over half of the new dads in the NTC study reported that lack of time, particularly couple time, had a big impact on their relationship. There are only a limited number of hours in a day and for the first few months at least, most of them are going to be taken up by your new baby.
That’s why it’s important to make the most of the small moments. Once your little one has been put to bed, or is happily playing for a few minutes, snatch those moments to concentrate on your partner.
It might only be enough time to sit down and have a quick cup of coffee, or a snuggle on the couch while watching TV, but it could still help maintain the connection between you.
Develop a support team
For some couples, the baby’s grandparents will be the go-to babysitters and others might turn to a trusted friend or neighbour.
Spending focused time together is important for your relationship, so although it may be hard to leave your baby in the care of others, know that it can be in everyone’s best interests. It’s an opportunity for your little one to get comfortable with new people, and gives you and your partner time to do some of the things you loved doing before baby arrived – a win-win for everyone.