While having a baby is a joyous experience, it can come with many changes, including a jealous partner.

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A new baby can jump start an exciting time in your life, but they also activate unexpected changes and mixed emotions.

These changes can leave you exhausted and make your partner feel jealous of your baby. You might be surprised to hear parents get jealous of their baby, but it’s more common than you think.

Negative emotions don’t mean you don’t feel love, joy, and wonder. It all goes together, making the roller coaster of parenthood an unexpected ride. Jealously is an instinct, and it doesn’t mean there’s hostility or a lack of love.

It might seem like your partner lacks empathy, but they could be trying to adjust to the shift in your relationship.

They might feel like they’ve been pushed out of place and can’t see where they fit anymore. Understanding baby envy can help you make positive changes in your relationship to ensure everyone feels involved.

A partner jealous of your baby often experiences a drastic life and relationship change. You may be used to having alone time together to relax and bond, and now that time might not happen as often. Now, your lives revolve around another human, and It’s a big adjustment that could cause:

Decreased marital enjoyment

Experts say most married parents experience less marital joy than before having a baby. When this happens, your partner can experience envy because things aren’t what they were before.

You might spend less time together than before and experience a lack of sleep. The decreased one-on-one time and difficult adjustments can lead to negative feelings from your partner.

Baby on the brain

Even when the baby is asleep or you and your partner get some alone time, it can be hard to think about anything else. Instead of focusing on one another, perhaps one — or both of you — can’t stop thinking about your little one.

Lack of communication

When you’re both tired and stressed, you might not communicate much. Perhaps you have fragmented conversations without any meaningful exchanges.

Envy over the nursing bond

When a parent chest feeds their baby, it promotes a powerful bond. Your partner might feel useless during this time because they aren’t the one lactating.

Plus, they’ll see you and the baby bonding in an exclusive way. Nursing is a beautiful experience but could make the other parent progressively insecure and envious.

While the non-birthing parent often experiences jealousy, the birthing partner can also become jealous of the baby. There are a few reasons for this, including:

Lack of attention

Perhaps the pregnant parent received a lot of attention during pregnancy but feels ignored once the baby is born. Everyone might be eager to hear how the baby is doing without much regard to the birthing parent’s condition.

“Practically overnight, I went from everyone, even strangers on the subway, inquiring about how we were doing to suddenly the concern seemingly only being about my baby.”

– Bridgette Bartlett Royall

Read more about Royall’s story along with other birthing parents in our Becoming Mom series

Missing the pre-baby relationship dynamic

After a baby is born, the relationship changes quickly and drastically. While there’s a good reason for the change, it’s sometimes hard to accept.

The birthing parent might feel like they’re no longer themselves because of the changing dynamic.

Reflecting on a traumatic childhood

The birthing partner might feel jealous of their child if that parent didn’t receive the same love and support when they were a child.

This parent may give their child everything they need, offering comfort and love whenever necessary. While they wouldn’t have it any other way, a birthing parent may sometimes experience envy over not having the same experience.

If you think your partner might be jealous of your baby, there are signs to watch for, including:

It’s hard to deal with when you’re already sleep-deprived and depleted. However, overcoming parental jealousy is pivotal to maintaining a strong family foundation.

Plan regular date nights

When you have planned time together, it’s easier to get through a hard season. You can plan weekly date nights, so you always know you have something to look forward to. It can give you the one-on-one time you desperately need, too.

If you can’t get out of the house, you could make a plan at home. After the baby goes down, you could have a movie night or do a fun activity together. If possible, though, you might employ a sitter so you can avoid interruptions.

Allow your partner to be involved

When the baby is born, it’s tempting to do everything yourself. However, it can make your partner feel inadequate and pushed away. Research from 2017 shows that skin-to-skin contact with both parents benefits the baby, so it’s wise to share opportunities with them.

Additionally, sharing duties like:

  • feeding the baby
  • giving baths
  • reading bedtime stories

It allows both parents to bond with the baby separately, promoting partnership and teamwork.

Worth listening

As you recalibrate what a relationship with equal contribution looks like after a baby is introduced, you might consider adjusting the mental load in your partnership and how much each of you provides when one is nursing exclusively.

You can listen to this podcast for more on sharing the load:

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Talk about your relationship

You can sit down with your partner and honestly discuss your romantic relationship. You could talk about how it has changed, and will further develop, and be realistic about the situation. You can set goals for the two of you, making sure to prioritize them.

Watch for signs of anxiety and depression

You can pay attention if your partner exhibits signs of anxiety or depression while you’re pregnant. If they do, research from 2020 shows they are more likely to become jealous after the baby is born. With that being the case, you both can take action to inform yourselves before the baby comes.

Be open with one another

You can encourage your partner to talk about their feelings. If they feel anxious during the pregnancy, getting to the root of the issue can help you work together to overcome it. Then, you’ll be ready to deal with any jealousy that follows the birth.

Enjoy small moments of intimacy

Prioritizing time together can help you ensure jealousy doesn’t set in. When your partner knows you want to spend time with them, they’ll feel much better about the changes.

Alternating shifts with the baby can make this hard, so cherishing even brief moments can keep you two in lockstep.

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You’ve likely wondered why your partner is jealous of the baby and how you can help them. Even with the increased business of life, there are things you can do to overcome baby envy and prevent it from taking root.

Having a baby is a big life change, and you and your partner can work together to move forward. You’re both experiencing something new, so you can make the most of it and nurture your relationship.