When you’re pregnant you’ll find everyone is keen to give you advice, whether you’ve asked for it or not. Some people you’ll listen to more than others because what they are saying seems to make sense and you trust their judgment.
No matter how insightful and well-intentioned people are, it won’t be until you have your own baby that you truly understand what they’ve been trying to tell you. There are, quite simply, some things you’ll need to find out for yourself.
I’ve never felt this way before
Love, guilt and anxiety are common, strong emotions for new parents. It is hard to predict just how intense these feelings may be and it can take time to make sense of it all, especially in the fog of exhaustion in the early months.
First time parents often describe a sense of confusion about loving their baby as much, if not more than their partner. And for perhaps the first time in their relationship, someone else is in-between them. As normal and necessary as this is, it can create discomfort and even a sense of betrayal, especially for couples who are very strongly connected.
Nature has designed babies to help their parents fall in love with them. This is one of the reasons why the human race has survived for 200,000 years or more. Babies also need to be priortised so they are cared for and thrive. Small babies aren’t good at waiting their turn, being patient or sharing and the result of this is that often, adults in the family need to wait their turn.
10 ways to ensure you and your partner stay strong
- Make time for your partner, even if you need to schedule this into your diary. Short windows of time will be more realistic than hours quarantined away from your baby.
- Try to do nice things for each other - they don’t need to be big. Simple reminders that you’re thinking of them will help.
- Plan ‘date nights’ and agree not to talk about the baby, at least for some of the time.
- Remind your partner that you still love them. This may be telling them, offering small gifts, making a nice meal or physical contact. Even if they already know, it’s nice to be reminded.
- Avoid comparing your feelings for the baby with how you feel about your partner. Adult to adult -couple and baby love are very different.
- Keep the lines of communication open with your partner that for now, your baby needs a lot of your time. Remind yourselves of why you wanted a baby and how excited you were to meet them.
- Avoid trying to be all things to everyone else in the family and spreading yourself too thin.
- Send a text or call them if you have a moment. An ‘I’m thinking of you’ message is reassuring.
- Accept all reasonable offers of support with baby care and housework. This will help to free up some of your energy to invest into your relationship.
- Accept that there will be days when you won’t have time to think about anything other than yourself and your baby. Try not to get frustrated about this; it will pass.