A newborn baby may do nothing but eat, sleep and poop all day but, the undivided attention and care they need can certainly put a relationship to the test, causing all kinds of problems. But how can a gorgeous little bundle of joy cause such newborn baby stress?
The pressures of a newborn baby
As you’ve likely figured out, on the huge list of newborn baby challenges, getting any quality time in your relationship is often at the very bottom. There’s the extra housework, financial pressures, lack of sleep, new things to learn, no time for yourself and let’s not forget, lack of sex. Then throw in some frustration, tiredness, conflict, disappointment and hurt, as well as a bit of lashing out and criticism and you’ve got your typical relationship problems after having a baby. But don’t worry, you’re not the only ones going through newborn baby stress.
Having a new baby and raising a family is not easy but there are ways to make it easier.
Calm your expectations
New parents, particularly mothers, have such high expectations of themselves. They want to do it all, perfectly, all of the time. This, unfortunately, doesn’t help relationships nor does it reduce the risk of post-natal depression. Remember that you are not alone, there are other mothers experiencing the same challenges. Be kind to yourself, lower your expectations and block out that inner bully in your head.
Intimacy and romance
When 100% of your attention moves from each other to baby, it can be easy to become disconnected. Try getting away, just the two of you, even if just for a couple of hours. This might make you feel guilty but, think of it as the medicine you need to keep your relationship strong; you’ll come back healthy and refreshed. If you can’t go away, make the most of the moments you do have to talk at home and go out of your way to show some kindness to each other.
If sex is the last thing on your mind but you’re worried that your partner might mistake loving kindness as an invitation for something more, remember that communication is key. If you’ve had a baby attached to you most of the day and you want your space, you have leaky breasts, you’re exhausted and still dealing with body changes and swollen bits, tell your partner. Being open and honest about how you feel is the most important thing so they don’t take it personally.
Reduce your risk of post-natal depression
Post-natal depression can also put a huge strain on a relationship. It is said that post-natal depression is caused by hormonal changes in the body. However, it can also be triggered by stress, exhaustion, overwhelm, isolation, lack of exercise and poor health. Consider implementing the following practices to reduce your risk:
- Set realistic expectations for yourself, you’re not superwoman.
- Try some relaxation techniques like meditation or yoga. Calm mummy equals calm baby.
- Sleep when baby sleeps.
- Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
- Communicate with your partner. Let them know what concerns and scares you and work through it together.
- Ditch the to-do list. It’s ok if you only get one thing done in a day.
- Avoid isolation. Join a mother’s group or go out with friends.
Build a nurturing environment
When you create a home environment that nurtures physical, emotional and mental health, as well as cognitive and behavioural development for your baby, it has widespread positive effects on everyone in the family.
A healthy diet and regular exercise, respectful, encouraging and supportive behaviour and an environment focused on calm and positivity is a healthy framework to have and the perfect role model for baby’s development.
Newborn baby stress and relationship problems are overwhelming but don’t forget to remind yourself of what you created, together.
This is a Guest Contribution by Brisbane Psychologist Dr Rachel Hannam who provides specialist Emotions Focused Couples Therapy and relationship counselling.