Having a baby is a wonderful and life changing experience however it also puts enormous pressure on a couple. Each couple will experience the change from a two to three-person family (or more) in different ways. Keeping the lines of communication open during this stage is important.
There are several challenges that couples/ families might face when a new baby comes along. One of the most significant changes is to the quality and quantity of time spent together. Understandably, both parents can be very focused on the needs of the baby when previously they would have been focused on each other. This can lead to feeling excluded. We know that the primary caregiver for the child can often have feelings of extreme fatigue, completely depleted and oftentimes ‘touched out’. This is common with women in the early stages of parenting as they spend many hours holding the baby, feeding the baby and rocking the baby to sleep. At the end of the day that last thing they may feel like is being touched again which can obviously affect the desire for sex or intimacy.
Another major challenge that families face is the amount of involvement or help each parent contributes to caring for the child; and how this is done. Many couples find that once baby comes along, they can start to have more arguments than usual about how certain tasks are completed and or the perceived level of help and support each is getting. While this can be upsetting; especially if as a couple you are usually on the same page, be aware that it is quite normal and part of the process of adjusting to the newest family member. One of the ways that couples can navigate this is to keep communication open and honest but also respectful of each other’s feelings. This can be hard during times of high stress and sleep deprivation so being able to apologise or make amends where necessary is important too.
Some couples find that after their baby is born there becomes a battle about who is more tired, who is doing most, who had the least amount of sleep. This can quickly turn to resentment and anger if each partner does not acknowledge that challenges that the other one is facing. If you feel as though you are unable to work through this issue alone, a couple’s counsellor can be very helpful. They can provide a safe space to discuss these issues in a non-judgemental way.
See more about the Mums Matter Psychology relationship counselling service here.