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Adjusting to Parenthood after Birth 101

Author: Barbara Desmarais, MedSchoolForParents.com Expert
The nine month wait is finally over and your first child has arrived.  You are now a family of three.  Suddenly priorities have dramatically shifted and there is a brand new norm.  Living spontaneously is now just a memory.  Life as you knew it has changed and will never be the same.
The first weeks of your new arrival bring a lot of “awes”.  You both marvel at this miracle of life that together, you’ve brought into the world.   You closely watch every movement, every sound, every bodily function, and eagerly wait for the first smile.  Love has taken on a new meaning. 
Your new obsession though means changes in the relationship between you and your spouse or partner.  They are no longer your primary focus and for some, that can create tension and in some cases, jealousy.  Often sex gets put on the back burner for many weeks and sometimes for several months.  I’ve worked with couples who say it’s been close to a year. 
Newborns take up a lot of time and energy and the demands go on all day and night.  There is no such thing for new parents, as an eight hour sleep.  These things combined, can make it very difficult to put any focus on the relationship parents have with each other.  What happens though when the neglect of that very important relationship starts in the first month and continues for months, or years? What happens when all the focus goes towards the child but none towards the child’s parents?
Our children need us to remain loving and caring towards each other so they can grow up in a safe, stable, and loving environment. They need us to tend to our relationship and address issues before the little things become big things. They need us to express love for each other and remember why we came together in the first place.  They need us to act as a team and be united in our approach.  If we aren’t always united, which is often the case; they need us to respect each other and not make a big issue around things that don’t really matter in the big picture. 
If in the first month after the birth of your first child you begin to be actively aware of the importance of keeping your union strong and loving, it will become a habit.  You will be giving your child the gift of a loving home to grow up in.  You will be setting an example of a healthy relationship.  They will learn from the example you set. 
Despite the profound joy you feel when your new baby enters your life, remember you’re going through a major life change.  Many of those changes you’ll both feel but each of you may also experience them quite differently.  Be gentle on each other.  Show compassion and patience as you both navigate the many twists and turns, and peaks and valleys of this new chapter.   
Top Tips for medschoolforparents.com parents from Barbara Desmarais :
1. Make the effort to have sex at least once a week.  It will help to keep your union strong.  Even when you might not feel like it, it’s an important part of the relationship. 
2. Be conscious of acknowledging each other with words of love, support and encouragement.  Remember this is all new for both of you.   
3. When family or close friends offer to babysit, take the opportunity to go out.  Even a couple of hours together will make a difference.
4. Maintain your other friendships.  Doing things that nurture YOU, makes you a better partner. 
5. Cultivate friendships with other couples who have babies.  Your new life will require some balance and a variety of activities and people.  Injecting some fun into your life will help to keep your relationship healthy. 
5. Really pick your battles.  If your partner puts an outfit on the baby that you don’t like, let it go.  You’ll find we all do things differently and there are many “right” ways of doing things.  Decide if in the big picture, what you’re battling over, really matters. 
Updated 03/08/2017


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