Having a baby typically is one of the happiest times in a couple’s lives but also one of the most transformative experiences a couple will go through. No longer is a couple focused only on each other, but now, they are responsible for the care of a newborn.
While this can bring great joy, it also can cause relationship stress as couples relearn what their role in the family is and how to cope with the changes that happen as a result.
Many couples ﬁnd that having a baby brings them closer together and allows them to take a team approach to caring for their baby. Mom might be responsible for feeding the baby, while Dad is responsible for diaper changes, burping and settling the baby. This teamwork can begin during pregnancy as couples attend birthing classes and breastfeeding classes together.
Couples are able to learn together and begin to make decisions about how they want to care for their baby. If a couple has diﬀering opinions, it is important to discuss how they can come to a compromise.
It also is vital for partners to communicate how they are feeling and be patient with one another as they adjust to being new parents.
Planning ahead and putting money aside during pregnancy can oﬀset money concerns that might come up while one partner stays home with the baby.
Getting a good night’s sleep, or even a few hours in a row, can make a huge diﬀerence in one’s outlook and attitude. Couples might take turns with the baby while the other sleeps or another family member, such as the baby’s grandma or aunt, might oﬀer to come over to help.
Couples also might notice changes in their relationship with their partner as a result of becoming parents. With many moms breastfeeding, it can be a challenge for dads to ﬁgure out where they ﬁt in the relationship. Moms can be aware of this and make sure dad is provided with opportunities to hold and interact with the baby, and dads can be involved by becoming breastfeeding savvy and oﬀering support and encouragement for moms.
Couples often might feel like they don’t have as much time together as they did before the baby. This can be remedied by sitting together when the baby is feeding, taking walks together and holding hands and having simple date nights at home until they feel ready to go out with their new baby.
Adjusting to having a newborn can be overwhelming, but couples should try to enjoy the little moments of becoming a new family. Recognizing that changes will happen and communicating through them will make a diﬀerence.
Rebecca Franzen has a master’s in lactation and is an international board certiﬁed lactation consultant at Statera Integrated Health and Wellness in Dubuque.