After having a baby, you may notice changes in intimacy and quality time with your partner. But some strategies can help you cope.
When you bring a new baby home, whether it’s your first or third, the “routine” dynamic you had with your partner may change. You’ve just added one more person that you and your partner will need to care for.
And as happy as the occasion can be, you may quickly find that reductions in time, sleep, and money can impact your relationship.
But there are steps you can take together to possibly reduce the potentially negative impact your new baby can have on your relationship.
Sex and gender exist on a spectrum. We use the terms “men” and “women” throughout this article to reflect the terms that have been used historically to gender people. But your gender identity may not align with the categories and associated risk factors listed below.
For some couples, the addition of a baby can strengthen their bond. But certain factors may affect your relationship.
Knowing these factors may help you and your partner cope and bond healthily.
Adjusting to a new sleep routine can be difficult after welcoming a new baby into your family.
Newborns typically sleep 16 to 18 hours per day, but they may sleep about 1 to 2 hours at a time. These varied sleeping patterns attribute to your baby frequently waking up to be fed or changed.
You may notice that their appetite increases as they experience growth spurts around:
- 2 weeks
- 6 weeks
- 3 months
- 6 months
During these times your baby may wake up more often to be fed. This is especially true if you’re chestfeeding, as an increase in chestfeeding will increase your milk supply.
This may lead to sleep deprivation which can cause issues with your relationship, work, and other areas of your life.
According to the
- a sense of worry in social situations
- difficulty judging other people’s emotions and actions
- chronic health problems
Your day-to-day priorities and spending time with loved ones can compete with the time it will take to care for your baby.
You may feel like your partner no longer has as much time for you or that you don’t have enough time for them.
- greater happiness
- less stress
- an increased sense of purpose
Findings also indicate that parents with younger children share less time alone with their spouses than married couples without children.
Having children can stretch your budget, which may lead to financial stress.
According to a 2015 report, a couple can expect to pay around $12,980 annually per child when their household income falls between $59,200-$107,400.
This works out to about $233,610 total investment over the child’s lifetime and doesn’t include the cost of college.
In other words, your previous budget needs to change to accommodate new expenses related to the baby. This includes funds for:
- other miscellaneous expenses
The diminishing funds can impact your budget and may lead to increased tension in your relationship.
Changes in intimacy
Sexual intimacy often plays an important role in a healthy relationship.
Following the birth of a baby, the desire to engage in sexual activity may decrease for various reasons, such as:
- adjusting to postpartum body changes
- time constraints
- sleep deprivation
According to a
- the type of childbirth (vaginal or C-section)
- trauma of the perineum
- changes in mood
- spousal support
- postpartum sexual dysfunction (PSD)
It can be difficult to avoid potential changes that occur after having a baby. But there are strategies that can help reduce the likelihood of how much your relationship may be impacted.
Consider the following tips to help you and your partner cope:
Get some sleep
You can help fight sleep deprivation by finding ways to get more sleep.
This may mean taking turns watching the baby overnight or letting your partner sleep during the day to catch up after a rough night.
Things have changed since you brought your baby home.
Try to talk about how you feel about sex, budgets, and taking care of the baby. Open communication can help prevent communication issues that can make it more difficult to connect emotionally.
Communicating your needs can help ensure your partner is aware of any challenges you may face. This may help your partner better learn how to support you.
As you and your partner adjust to caring for a new baby, you may neglect their or your own needs. Learning to forgive each other during moments of overwhelm or stress may help improve your relationship.
Try to offer compassion and patience to your partner during these times of change. Consider practicing mindfulness with your partner to increase intimacy and connection.
Practicing mindfulness together can help you to better understand your partner’s emotions and improve positive coping strategies.
Getting back into sexual relations can take some time following the birth of a child due to stress, sleepiness, and other factors.
Communicating your needs and desires to your partner and considering theirs can lead to a more fulfilling sex life and improve your overall relationship.
It may help to schedule time for intimacy or to try to have sex when the baby is asleep.
Research suggests that the following strategies helped them to cope:
- support and good communication from their partners
- support from other women
- alone time
- accepting the changes of motherhood
- adjusting sexual positions and practices for increased comfort
In some cases, you may find that seeking professional care may help. Couple or individual talk therapy may help you better understand your and your partner’s needs and desires.
If you believe that you or your partner is experiencing postpartum depression, consider seeking help. Doctors often help screen for signs of depression and may recommend therapy, medication, or a combination.
Bringing your baby home can involve a mixed bag of emotions, stressors, and changes. All these factors can cause your relationship to change.
If you find this happening, you can take some steps to help keep your relationship happy and healthy. This can include self and relationship help, such as carving out more sleep, opening up lines of communication, or seeking counseling.