How to Navigate the Transition from Couple to First Time Parents
Having a baby is one of the most exciting, rewarding, and most challenging life transitions. Let’s face it, it’s both a happy and stressful time. Immediately after giving birth, you dive right into feeding every 2-3 hours around the clock, sleep-deprived nights, and major hormonal changes.
Needless to say, it’s a HUGE adjustment.
With all of these changes, couples can find themselves being more emotional, irritable, and zombie-tired, which can set them up for arguing more than usual.
Research shows that marital dissatisfaction actually decreases significantly after having a baby. It’s vital that you take care of your relationship while navigating the uncharted waters as a first-time parent. The best gift you can give yourselves and your baby is a strong, happy, and healthy relationship.
Here are my 4 tips on “How to Navigate the Transition from Couple to First Time Parents”
Expectations - Have realistic expectations of yourself and your partner during the adjustment phase. Discuss roles and responsibilities. Don’t assume you’re on the same page about who will do what. Talk about your expectations as a new mom or dad and about your partner too. If you’re a new mom or about to be, here’s another article I wrote years ago that you might find helpful: 7 Realizations About Being a New Mom.
Communication - Keep an open dialogue with each other. Make sure to check in with each other for at least 20 minutes a day to see how things are going, what each other needs, what challenges you and your partner are facing, and how you can support each other. Give each other feedback to ensure you’re both working as a team.
Be Compassionate - Give each other the benefit of the doubt. Show compassion, understanding, and appreciation for yourself and your partner. Recognize your limitations, be flexible, and don’t try to do everything. It’s not humanly possible! Realize there’s a lot to adjust to as you find your new rhythm as new parents and a new level in your relationship as partners.
Safeguard Your Relationship - Once you’re through the initial “survival mode” phase during the first few months, it’s important to realign your relationship and prioritize time to connect with your partner (just the two of you). Whether you have a family member or nanny come over to watch the baby or while the baby is sleeping, take time to nurture your connection with your partner. When you feel comfortable leaving the baby with someone else, take that opportunity to sneak away for a quick date and do something fun that reminds you of your life pre-baby. For more tips from Dr. Kate Campbell on How to Prioritize Your Relationship After Having Kids, watch this video.
Keep in mind that you’re going through a big life transition for the first time ever and that will take time to work through all of the emotional, physical, mental, and sexual changes. It’s an incredible journey, but not easy, and can be complicated with more severe challenges such as postpartum mood disorders. Research shows that 70-80% of women struggle with the baby blues. 1 in 7 women suffer from more serious postpartum mood disorders such as postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety or OCD, or postpartum psychosis.
If you or your partner are struggling with the baby blues or a postpartum mood disorder, they are wonderful resources to help. Reach out to Dr. Kate Campbell, LMFT, and the team at Bayview Therapy to discuss setting up a session at 954-391-5305.