Having a baby is a wonderful and life changing experience and sharing it with your partner will create an incredible bond between you like nothing else. Unfortunately though it can also be the cause of a really rocky year for your partnership.
The first year of your baby's life can throw quite a few hurdles such as a change to finances, change to lifestyle and exhaustion which can all put a strain on any relationship. Add to that the rollercoaster that is your hormones and it’s easy to see why so many new mums feel like their relationships start to break down during maternity leave. The good news is it is completely normal and while 70% of mums say their relationship with their partner was rocky during the first year almost 90% of those new mums said that their relationship was back on track by baby’s first birthday.
Here are five things to remember to help keep your relationship rock solid during that first year.
Your hormones will make you crazy
After having a baby you will experience a surge in oxytocin (love hormones) and feel completely and utterly infatuated with your baby and partner. This will even out at around 2 weeks postnatal which is when many mums start to experience the baby blues. Unfortunately this often coincides with the end of paternity leave meaning that you may feel suddenly very sad and lonely just as your partner heads back to work. This can make you feel very resentful and may seem like your partner has abandoned you when you feel you need them the most but it’s important to remember that all these feelings and sudden mood changes are related to hormones. A great thing you can do is keep a diary tracking your moods highs and lows. That way you can try to make sense of the pattern and also remind yourself that your husband not putting the toothpaste lid back on is not really the reason your cried for 20 minutes this morning!
It’s good to talk
It’s no secret that whilst women just love to talk men are a whole other species but that doesn’t mean that they don’t want to hear you. Communication is never more important than during that first year and you can’t assume that your partner knows what you need from him. Just as your family has changed and you are learning how to be a mum he is learning how to be a dad too and learning how to support you is a big part of that. Tell your partner openly what you need from them whether that’s more help with the night feeds, a foot rub on Tuesdays or a hug when they get in from work. Setting out your needs clearly will help take away the guess work for your partner and help you get the support you need from them.
Ok ok I know the last thing on your mind after a month of sleepless nights or a day of baby poop is sex but intimacy plays a huge role in staying connected with your partner. The phrase ‘catch feelings’ couldn’t be more accurate as during love making our bodies release that fabulous love hormone again making us feel connected to our partner in a super special way. Being intimate with your partner will also make you feel sexy too as despite what you may think I guarantee you they are completely in love with your new found mum body and are totally blown away by your gorgeous new curves.
If you don’t feel ready to jump back into sex just yet then go back to basics and have a little fun! Explain to your partner that you feel a little nervous and spend sometime enjoying each other’s bodies in other ways until you feel ready. Believe me he will not be disappointed!
Spend quality time together
You may feel like you see your partner all the time especially if you are up stumbling around the house in the small hours trying to team feed a hungry baby but are you REALLY seeing them? Spending quality time together whether that’s going on a date or just cooking a nice meal at home and eating with the TV off is really important. Try spending some time talking about something other than your baby. Ask your partner about work or tell them about something postman Pat delivered on his round that morning, anything at all just try to remember that before you were parents you were partners.
Remember it’s all completely normal
Almost 70% of couples say they felt a strain during the first year of their babies life so you are absolutely not the only one of your mum friends that are going through it. Adjusting to having a whole new person in your life is going to be challenging for both parents and we always take our stress out on those closest to us. Understanding that this period of adjustment is normal and that you will come out the other side stronger than ever is the first step to surviving the first year.
If you would like more information or support with your relationship you can contact Relate for free advise, support and information.