Relationships after the birth of your baby
Having a baby is going to change most things in your life: routines, sleep patterns and day to day life.
A new baby might also change the relationship with your partner, family and friends. How might things change for you?
Here are some typical relationship questions asked by new parents.
The first week after childbirth can often be a challenging time as you adjust to all the changes. You may be sleep deprived and have some aches and pains. If you feel you’re experiencing a low mood at this time, you may have what’s often called the ‘baby blues’. ‘Baby blues’ are thought to be due to the sudden hormonal and chemical changes that have taken place in your body after childbirth. Partners can also experience this, as they’re often very tired and adjusting to a new lifestyle too.
Some of the symptoms can include:
- Feeling tearful and emotional, more than you would expect
- Feeling touchy or irritable
- Having a low mood
- Feeling anxious or restless
- Feelings of low-self worth
These symptoms are normal in the circumstances and typically only last a few days. For more information visit this NHS website.
If the ‘baby blues’ go on for more than 2 weeks after giving birth, it could mean that you have postnatal depression. This can start any time after giving birth and many women don’t realise they have postnatal depression because it can develop gradually.
Signs that you or someone you know might be depressed include:
- Persistent feeling of sadness and low mood
- Lack of enjoyment and loss of interest in the wider world
- Trouble sleeping at night and feeling sleepy during the day
- Withdrawing from contact with other people
- Problems concentrating and making decisions
If you’re feeling any of the above or are worried, for yourself or someone else, speak with a midwife, health visitor or GP as soon as possible.
For local support:
- Specialist Health Visitors for Perinatal Mental Health https://abetterstartsouthend.co.uk/specialist-health-visitors-for-perinatal-mental-health/
For more information or to access the service, contact Ros: 07866609752 or Hilary: 07816965420
- Perinatal Mental Health Service – 01702538170
- Mindful Mums & Babies – an emotional wellbeing course for new mums – 01702220184 https://abetterstartsouthend.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/Mindfulmumsbabies_leaflet.pdf
The focus will have shifted from you to your baby and this can lead to feeling like your relationship just isn’t a priority at the moment - which is understandable at this time.
It’s also common for sex to go on the backburner for a while. Recovering from the birth, low desire and coping with exhaustion may also mean the prospect of restarting your sex life just feels like another added pressure, which can lead to feelings of frustration and rejection. Every couple finds their own way, in their own time, so don’t feel like you need to have ‘bounced back’ by a particular point in time.
There is no guidance about when to start having sex again after you’ve given birth. If you’ve had vaginal tears you may want to consider waiting a little longer for the tears to completely heal to avoid pain or irritation. It’s normal to feel a little self-conscious of your body – remember how amazing your body has been in growing your baby. If you or your partner have any worries, talk about them together and if you need some more support, talk to your health visitor or GP.
Think about using contraception - it’s possible to become pregnant again very soon after giving birth, even if you’re breastfeeding and before your periods have returned.
Becoming a new parent often puts strain on a relationship, regardless of what the relationship was like before your baby arrived. You’re likely to both be tired and have much less time to spend together than you did before the baby arrived - this stage when babies take up all your physical and emotional energy doesn’t last forever.
With so many things to do at the moment, it’s no surprise that arguments can spark - give yourselves some time to adjust to your new role as a parent and try and support each other. If you are struggling with knowing how to work things out, talk to your health visitor or GP for advice.
When we become parents our relationship with our own parents can change. Sometimes it can take ‘grandparents’ a little time adjust to the new situation - that you are now the parent of the baby, not them. Make up your own mind up about how you want to do things with your baby - talking and keeping an open friendly line of communication will help you to manage any advice you receive from others.
Many aspects of life change when you have a new baby in the family. Although you have other responsibilities this doesn’t mean that you can’t still go out and enjoy yourself and keep in touch with your friends and family. If you don’t feel like going out try video messaging as a way of keeping in contact with people. It’s a great way to chat and for them to see the baby, without you even leaving the house! When you feel you’re ready to venture out, arranging to see your friends and family for lunch or coffee is often easier than trying to arrange an evening out. Organising evenings out or date nights may take a little more effort but as the baby gets older things will be easier and it will all be worth it.