How Becoming Parents Can Affect Your Relationship
Expectant parents spend months preparing for the arrival of their baby. By the time they bring their little one home, they've taken classes, read a library's worth of books, and bought enough onesies to fill an entire dresser. But even with all the preparation, the reality of caring for a baby can be overwhelming.
When your household grows from two to three, your relationship with your partner is bound to change. Here are some ways to get a handle on what to expect when you have your baby.
And Baby Makes Three
Before, you were a couple. Now, you're parents. How will your day-to-day life change?
To start with the obvious, you probably won't get enough sleep in the early months of your baby's life. At first, your newborn may only sleep for a few hours at a time, and when your tiny bundle is up, you're up. The resulting sleep deprivation can make you irritable and turn tasks like household chores and errands into ordeals because you have less energy and can't concentrate. You'll also have less time for work, for yourself, and for your partner.
Being a new parent is wonderful, but at times it can be really difficult and stressful, too. This can generate many different feelings. It's common for new moms and dads to feel guilty when they're not enjoying every second of being a new parent. But it's important to remember that it's OK to want — and need — to take a break from the baby every once in a while.
A baby also can stir up surprising feelings of jealousy. Sometimes new dads get jealous because the baby takes up so much of mom's time. Dad may feel like a third wheel, or maybe he's jealous that he doesn't get to spend as much time with the baby or do as much of the parenting. These feelings are completely normal when the structure of a family changes so drastically.
Moms have their own challenges to confront. Pregnancy temporarily robs them of the bodies they're used to; a couple of extra pounds and dark circles under the eyes from late-night feedings can make a woman feel self-conscious and less attractive to her partner. Some moms also find it difficult to reconcile the image of a mother with that of a sexual woman, so they may be less interested in intimacy.
The changes brought by a baby reach beyond your immediate family as well. Suddenly, relatives and even acquaintances have endless stories and advice about child rearing. Family members may drop by unexpectedly or schedule regular visits to see your baby. Just when you have more to do than you think you can handle, all these extra people decide to stick around for dinner. Although you know they just want the best for the baby, their constant presence can make you feel even less in control of your own life and household.
Even without all the outside parenting advice, you and your partner might realize you have different approaches to parenting — one of you might be more inclined to pick up the baby whenever he or she cries while the other lets your little one cry for a while, for instance.
And trouble spots in a relationship, such as who does more work around the house, can get worse if new parents don't sit down and talk about what's bothering them. It is also important to remember that with parenting there is often more than one correct way to do something.
Note: All information is for educational purposes only. For specific medical advice, diagnoses, and treatment, consult your doctor.
© 1995-2009 The Nemours Foundation. All rights reserved.
Add your own comment
- Kindergarten Sight Words List
- The Five Warning Signs of Asperger's Syndrome
- What Makes a School Effective?
- Child Development Theories
- Why is Play Important? Social and Emotional Development, Physical Development, Creative Development
- 10 Fun Activities for Children with Autism
- Test Problems: Seven Reasons Why Standardized Tests Are Not Working
- Bullying in Schools
- A Teacher's Guide to Differentiating Instruction
- Steps in the IEP Process