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Relationship strain after having a baby

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In the euphoria of your baby arriving everything else in your life can pale into insignificance.  Whilst this is completely normal, there quickly comes a time when the reality of life kicks back in, and it can be a surprise to many new parents that life has changed so dramatically.

Relationship strain after having a baby is inevitable especially during the first year.  It can be very difficult to make the time for each other, but this overwhelming demand on your time will not last forever and you need to take care of your relationship in the meantime.  Being aware of what’s happening can help you to navigate your way through these challenging early months successfully.

Hormones – Accept the Inevitable

When the baby is born a woman’s body has to instantly adjust to a new cocktail of hormones that flood her body in response to the baby’s departure and in preparation for breastfeeding.  Every woman reacts uniquely to this change, and those pesky hormones can result in anything from boundless energy and euphoria, to headaches and violent mood swings.

Instead of fighting the emotions and trying to pretend everything is as it was, try to accept these challenges as part of your new baby-filled life, and you will find it easier to brush it off when you are on the receiving end of a snappy comment from your partner, or a verbal tirade just because you asked her to pass the salt.  Please.  It’s not personal, so try to avoid being over-sensitive.

Tiredness – Work Together to Reduce It

Little people can sap your energy like nothing else on earth.  It can sometimes feel like you exist only to meet their needs.  Once the essential tasks of the day have been taken care of it is difficult to find energy for anything else, but try to ensure that you don’t neglect your own needs, nor those of your partner.

It is vital more than ever at this stage to communicate with your partner.  Sharing how this tiredness makes you feel can help you both work together to combat it.  Common tactics for fighting fatigue include:

  • Learning to ask for, and accept, help when you can – from each other as well as other people
  • Sharing household chores – this can be something you do together, to speed them up and create more space in the day for quality twosome time
  • The “it takes two” philosophy – it took you both to make the baby, so share the childcare too, in all aspects.  This can often generate some short but precious me-time for each parent – your relationship will benefit when you each have chance individually to relax, even just for 10 minutes

relationship strain after having a baby

Responsibility – You’re a Parent Now

Parenting is one of the hardest jobs in the world, yet there is no training, and no instruction manual – a recipe for relationship stress if ever there was one.  The feeling of responsibility can be massive, especially with each new phase your child enters.  Everything is new and you may feel like you are stumbling around in the dark.  A few simple strategies can help you keep things on an even keel:

  • Share the responsibility – take decisions together, so you both feel empowered
  • Avoid the blame game – you’re in this together and you will both make mistakes at some point, so don’t fall into the destructive habit of blaming each other when something goes wrong – work together on a solution instead
  • Don’t go it alone – there are so many support resources available, from parenting groups who meet in person, to forums where parents share experiences and ideas.  Whatever you are experiencing with your child, it is almost certain someone else can relate to it, and getting an outsider’s perspective can help you to keep yours
  • Discuss your hopes and fears for raising your child – it is surprising how often this simple point is missed.  You cannot assume you both have similar attitudes to parenting unless you talk.  This one activity alone can remove much of the stress that can arise from misunderstandings and conflict over how certain things should be done

The issues mentioned above can impact all aspects of your relationship, from finances, and potential lack of intimacy, to the changing roles of both parents.  Each can cause strain in your relationship post-birth.  Don’t be afraid to ask for counselling if you feel that you are losing control of the situation – after all, it was the strength of your relationship that brought the baby into the world, surely it’s worth fighting for something that created such a priceless treasure.

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About Cally Worden

About Cally Worden

Seasoned freelance writer Cally Worden lives with her family and dog in a quiet corner of rural France. A love of the outdoors, and a fascination with her children's ability to view life with fresh eyes provide the inspiration for much of her work. Cally writes regularly for various websites and UK print publications on subjects as diverse as parenting, travel, lifestyle, and business, and anything that makes her smile.

Website: Cally Worden

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