During your pregnancy, you had visions of snuggling with your baby, you and your partner looking adoringly over your new bundle of joy’s head. You got that warm, fuzzy feeling just day dreaming about it. Now that your baby has arrived the reality is you haven’t showered in days, your body is sore, and your new routine has become a bleary-eyed pattern of nursing, burping, pumping and diaper changing (for you and baby might I add).
With barely enough time to take care of yourself, how could you even think about your partner and their needs? Even though you are adjusting to this new way of life as a family of 3 (or more!) it’s important to carve time out for your relationship, even in that first week home.
Sleep When the Baby Sleeps.
You have heard it repeatedly, but it’s not just about mommy getting shut-eye when baby does. Your partner is tired too, and what better way to catch a wink of sleep than to do it together? Cuddle up on the couch – with the baby monitor close by of course - and just enjoy the other’s touch. Even if your baby only ends up sleeping a measly 20 minutes, that time was spent with one another. Being close reinforces your bond.
Talk it Out.
You are both going through a major identity shift so it’s important to “check-in” with yourself and one another. Try not to talk about your baby for the first 5 minutes of the conversation. Even though your child is your new shared, life consuming connection it’s important to recognize the other as an individual and talk about how they are feeling. You can even reignite your emotional connection simply by reminiscing about things you miss from your pre-baby life (like watching a movie without having to stop it 5 times to check on the baby, or nurse, or soothe).
Regain Sexual Intimacy.
Many new moms experience a loss of sexual intimacy. Your body has undergone serious changes, from childbirth to nursing. The demands of constantly being available to your newborn mentally, emotionally, and physically are taxing. It’s like you have used up all your energy, patience, and resources so much so there is nothing left for anyone else. This can cause your significant other to feel rejected or left out. Start out by being honest about how you are feeling, and start with small gestures. Holding hands or wrapping up in longer than normal embraces can be reassuring while easing you back into physical intimacy. Through these small physical acts sexual intimacy will begin to build. By the time you get the go ahead from your doc to start having sex again, it won’t feel like a ton of time has lapsed since the last time you even thought about getting physical. Whether you are ready or not, you also may not feel as rushed or resentful about fulfilling your partner’s sexual needs.
Your relationship after baby may not match that of your day dreams but just keep in mind that you are both in the trenches together. Your baby may be changing everything but at least you are going through these changes together. Be more patient with each other. Be more understanding with each other. Most importantly, be more compassionate with yourself and be diligent about self care.
Need time away to connect with one another? Check out the Couples Retreat!