Most people are prepared for their relationship to change after having a baby, and for some the experience actually brings them closer. However, if you’re one half of a couple that are struggling post-birth, there are lots of ways to keep the romance and intimacy alive.
Here are some of the changes that can put pressure on your relationship:
Less freedom as a couple
You’ve now inserted a newborn into what was a relationship solely focussed on each other, so the freedom of being able to do whatever you want as a couple just isn’t there anymore. And whilst you’ve had the time during pregnancy to prepare, it goes up another level in intensity once your baby has arrived.
Lack of sleep
Hands up who likes sleep deprivation? This can have all sorts of negative effects like:
- lack of interest in physical activities (including sex).
Suddenly sleep becomes a precious commodity that you crave above absolutely everything else!
Less ‘me time’ and money
In the early days of parenthood you’ll most likely have less time for the self-care rituals, like exercise, which can help keep your stress levels at bay. And then there’s the added financial changes that come with having a baby.
So no matter how happy and in love with your little one you are, you might be dealing with more stress than you’re used to.
Changes to intimacy
Your sexual relationship is likely to become a lot less straightforward. General tiredness, a lack of libido and potentially not feeling at your best physically are all common after giving birth. The important thing is to communicate any issues to your partner to avoid hurt feelings or misunderstandings.
Read more about sex after pregnancy >
How to keep your relationship strong
We’ve covered the potential challenges involved in becoming new parents; now here are some tips on how to overcome them:
- Discuss intimacy issues: When to resume your sex life can be a tricky topic to bring up. No decisions need to be made right away, but just opening a dialogue should make things feel more comfortable from the outset.
- Communicate regularly: Talk about how you see your roles before the birth, as well as whether your expectations are being met after it. This should prevent resentment building and help keep your bond strong.
- Don’t forget dates: Whilst this might not be possible right away, try and introduce regular alone time as a couple. It doesn’t have to be at night if that’s too tricky; it’s just about making the time to spend with each other.
- Share the load: Give each other time for those self-care rituals we talked about earlier. Not only does this help you both bond with your baby, being happy in yourself can help you be happier as a couple.
Where to get help if you’re struggling
If you’re not communicating with your partner about how the relationship changes are affecting you, this is when problems can arise. Luckily, there are lots of support options out there:
- Your GP or Maternal and child health nurse
- Relationships Australia 1300 364 277
- Family Relationship Advice Line 1800 050 321