How to Stay Connected with Your Partner after the Birth of Your Baby
In life, there may be any number of occurrences that can take us away from feeling connected to our partners. Certain key life events can especially test our relationships, such as starting a new job, moving, and, of course, having a baby. While babies are small and miraculous, they also usually require their parents to bend and stretch in ways they’ve never done before. Adjusting to life as a parent of a newborn may also mean adjusting how you connect to your partner: what may have easily worked for you in the past, now may require more effort as your family grows.
It’s important to stay connected to your partner because you will likely need to rely on each other in new ways as you navigate your ever-evolving life as parents. Feeling disconnected can potentially lead to resentment and other negative feelings, which will only make your role as a new parent that much more difficult.
Prioritize Connection with your Partner
When learning how to take care of your newborn, it may feel as though their needs are urgent and pressing all the time, and in some cases, they may be. You might be concerned about your baby’s weight gain, whether they are pooping enough, what the rash they have is, why they won’t stop crying, if they are sleeping enough, or about a seemingly unlimited list of potential red flags to monitor.
It may feel difficult to prioritize anything else when your plate feels so full. In addition, you are recovering from childbirth, and may be experiencing hormonal shifts, all of which may make it more challenging to tolerate disconnection with your partner. However, it is still important to maintain or rebuild a connection with your partner.
In the early days of your baby’s life, this may mean tackling all your baby-related concerns together, instead of one parent doing it alone or splitting the work in isolation. It could also mean that when you have less pressing concerns related to being a parent, you move them farther down the “to-do” list and instead use that time to connect with your partner. It often also means de-prioritizing things like a very organized home. Prioritizing connection time over doing laundry, for example, sometimes makes a huge difference.=
Communicate with your Partner
Communicating thoughts and feelings with your partner will never be more important than when you have a new baby. It can be easy to make assumptions about what your partner notices about your experience. If you think they know more than they do, that may lead you to feel disappointed in their actions or inactions. Carve out dedicated, regular, and ongoing time for you and your partner to talk about the joys, triumphs, struggles, and challenges that you are facing. Do not assume that because your partner is in your presence that they know what you’re thinking. Do not assume that if you are the primary care provider for your newborn that your partner is not also experiencing their own set of challenges. Remember that you’re navigating something new together. Be open to hearing each other out, without judgment, and ask explicitly whether they need something from you to help make their experience more positive, or if they just need to be heard.
If you are still pregnant while reading this, developing healthy communication skills before the baby arrives will be helpful as you enter parenthood together. A couple’s therapist can help you learn non-judgmental, active listening techniques in just a few sessions.
Learning both your own love language and your partner’s is crucial for effective communication and can make all the difference when trying to connect. Imagine receiving a poem filled with beautiful words and images, when what you really need to feel loved is someone to take care of the dishes after dinner. Imagine shopping for and giving an expensive gift to your partner, when all they want is to be held or to receive a kiss to feel valued and appreciated. When you learn how you both give and show love, you can put your efforts towards actions that are truly meaningful to them. Use this link to take a quiz and learn more about your love language styles.
Set New Expectations
It may be important to adjust your expectations as to what a connection with your partner looks like in the early days of parenting. In the past, it may have meant a weekly date night out or cuddling on the couch, watching movies; but with the addition of a new family member, things may look different. If you have nearby family support, a caring friend, or resources (like hiring a postpartum doula or a babysitter) you may be able to find alone time with your partner. But if you do not have those options, it’s important to realize that connecting with your partner is something you may have to do in new and creative ways, which often may include doing the activity while baby is asleep, or wearing the baby or pushing them in a stroller so that they may sleep while you do your activity.
Be Creative in How You Connect
Now that you’ve adjusted your expectations as to what connecting with your partner may look like after having a baby, let’s take a look at specific ways to connect that may be new and creative! You could take walks together, give each other massages, go grocery shopping together, or listen to a new song, album, or podcast separately to discuss together at a later time. You could cook together, or enjoy a meal, dessert, or even a cup of tea together after the baby has gone to sleep. The keyword here is together. What you do doesn’t hold as much weight as the fact that you’re doing it together.
Outsource Support (When Possible)
If you’ve ever heard the phrase “it takes a village to raise a child” it never rings more true than during the tender times of navigating a connection with your partner while taking care of a newborn. Unfortunately, modern families are often far from each other. Whether this is your first baby or you are bringing a sibling into the equation, this time can be grueling for families on their own. If you are looking for help that will support the whole family and give breathing room for building connections with your partner, consider hiring a postpartum doula for the first few weeks after birth.
If you plan on using a nanny for childcare, having them start a few hours a week during your parental leave might be a good way to get some alone time with your partner. Once you are comfortable leaving your baby, a babysitter can also be a lifesaver – even for a quick lunch break during naptime! They can help ease the mental load of taking care of your baby, yourself, and your home, leaving more time for you and your partner to be together.
Building a new connection with your partner is an important tool in having a balanced family life. While it may look or feel different than it has in the past, it is more important than ever once baby arrives. Make having a connection a priority, communicate your highs and lows, adjust your expectations as to what connecting with your partner looks like, be creative with how you spend your time together, and outsource support when possible.
Be gentle and forgiving, both with yourself and with your partner, as you navigate this unchartered territory as parents. And remember…you’re doing it together!
Laura is a doula, writer, wife, and the mother of two incredible kids. When not supporting new families or her own, you can find her trying out new recipes in the kitchen. Laura is available on the boober platform for matches.