Relationship Stress

Having a new baby is an exciting event in a couple’s life, however the demands of a newborn can put a huge strain on a relationship. First- and even second-time parents may face financial challenges, role or identity shifts, and lifestyle adjustments. Here are some tips for understanding how your partner might be feeling and to help keep communication open between you both.

How New Mothers May Be Feeling

Becoming a new mom can be an overwhelming time for a lot of women. A sudden lack of sleep together with figuring out breastfeeding, diaper changes, not to mention hormonal shifts and physical pain from the birth can have a huge effect on how a mom feels emotionally and physically. Many women are struck by their sudden loss of control over simple or everyday tasks, such as laundry, cooking, etc. Some new mothers may be gearing up to return to work and worrying about how that transition will affect them and their baby. Others may be struggling with breastfeeding issues and sleep deprivation, both of which can have a huge effect on a mom’s physical and mental wellbeing. Moms who have had traumatic birth experiences or struggled with fertility issues or suffered miscarriage or loss of a baby are at particularly high risk of experiencing pregnancy or postpartum anxiety or depression.

How New Fathers May Be Feeling

New dads can sometimes feel left out. In the very early days and weeks, there is little they can do for the baby. They may also be suffering from sleep deprivation and having a hard time juggling work with the demands of a new baby. There many be a conflict of emtions – joy and elation at the baby’s arrival coupled with isolation or resentment that they no longer have as much quality time with their partner. One in 10 new dads can experience anxiety and depression following the birth of a baby.

What you can do

Moms:

You can help by including your partner in the care of your newborn baby. Take advantage of his offers to spend one-on-one time with your baby. Your partner may do things differently from you, but try to look past that. He needs to do things in his own way, and he and your baby will be just fine. Try to ask for what you need – whether it’s for help with laundry or cooking or just holding the baby so you can get some rest – don’t be afraid to ask for help from your partner.

 

Dads:

Offer to help lighten her load. Whether it’s offering to pick up dinner on your way home or change the baby so she can rest or throw a load of laundry in the washing machine – you’re a team and working together to create a harmonious family is your goal. It may seem like your partner is criticizing everything from the way you’re changing the diaper to how you’re holding the baby, but it’s generally because she is hyper aware and super protective of every aspect of caring for your baby right now. As you both become more confident as parents, this will pass so try not to be offended by her requests, and try to be as patient with her as you can.

 

Seeking out counseling to work on your relationship is not a sign of failure; it shows a great strength that you have recognized that things aren’t going as well as they used to.