Bringing a new baby home is very exciting but usually a lot of stress comes along with your joy. In your relationship it’s important to figure out how to navigate through these new waters together, to feel like partners and know that you will be there for each other throughout this experience.
I am currently expecting baby number three. You’d think having been through this before many of the concerns the first time around would no longer be there. Not so much, I still have most of the same concerns and many new stressors have arrived. Communicating with my husband and knowing he will be there to walk through all of the newness with me relieves my nerves and helps me feel closer to him.
Below are 6 tips to keep your relationship strong despite the stress and nervousness you will both be feeling as your due date draws nearer.
- Communicate concerns. You will each be feeling nervous and anxious but it may be for many different reasons. Common stressors before baby arrives: finances, preparing for time off work, family coming to help, labor and delivery, caring for a new baby, body changes for new Mom, nursing or bottle feeding, and many more. When discussing these topics be respectful of each other’s concerns, even if you can’t relate. Do not judge or assume your concern is more important than your partner’s. Listen, be empathetic, and ask each other if there is anything that would make this concern more manageable.
- Plan ahead. Together make plans for child or doggy care when labor and delivery starts. Pack a bag for the hospital, make list of last minute items which will be thrown in. Decide who will be in charge of those last minute items. Once baby is home what will you each need. Sleep is a big issue. Decide who will get up with baby when. Will you be able to take turns? As well as feeding your baby, you will have to feed yourselves. Have prepared meals in your freezer or save up a little money to get carry out when baby first gets home and everyone is tired and adjusting? Plans should not be etched in stone. They serve a few purposes, relieve stress, give you both an idea of how each would like things to go, and let each other know that you will be there to support each other throughout the experience. Lots of things may alter your plans and that’s ok, lower stress levels will help you roll with the changes and make spontaneous decisions together as you go.
- Check in with each other frequently. As the due date draws nearer continue to ask each other how you are feeling? If any new concerns have come up? If there is anything you can do for each other? Often we forget to share how we are feeling. We become stressed, overwhelmed and start to get upset or quiet and not realizing its due to stress or nervousness. Check your own stress level frequently as well as checking in with each other. The goal is not to alleviate your partner’s concerns or expect that they can alleviate yours but just to be there for each other and walk through the stress together.
- Stay connected. Just before baby comes is a great time to reconnect with date nights, dinners with friends or family, or a weekend away with each other. These are all great ways to fill the gas tank of connection, support, and love before it is quickly drained when baby arrives.
- Let’s Talk About Sex Baby. Sex can become a little awkward as your due date draws nearer. With your doctor’s permission you may still be able to have sex whether or not Mommy to be feels like it is another story. For Dad sex with very pregnant Mom can be awkward too. Dad may be worried about the baby or hurting Mom. However you are each feeling about sex, please make an effort to talk about it. Talking about having or not having sex will help reduce either of you taking something personally. Hopefully you will also feel closer to one another knowing how you are each feeling. And if you are not have sex or not having sex as often this may be an important time to increase other physical touch. Lay together on the couch. Hold each other in bed. Dad, Mom may also appreciate back or foot rubs as her discomfort grows.
- Who is coming to help? If you both get along with your own family and each other’s family you do not need to read this but for most of us having family in our homes to help can be stressful. First and for most you, the new parents, should support each other. In other words take your partner’s side not your Mom’s. The new parents should also be the decision makers and in charge of baby’s care. Our family and friends love us and usually just want to help but sometimes their help can come in a crappy package. Again, share your concerns with each other without blaming or persecuting anyone. Instead of “Your Mother is such a…” “She is going to…” try, “I am worried I will be uncomfortable if your Mom says…” We tend to be defensive of our families even when we agree with the criticism so soften the conversation. Keep it about how you might feel instead of what they will or will not do. If a family member over steps a boundary, the partner who is related needs to step in and let them know they have over stepped. Trying to “stay out of it” or “not get in the middle” makes the other partner feel discounted. Take a stand for each other. The stance of my husband or wife comes first will go a long way with your partner and have a positive lasting impact.
I am so excited for each of you to become new parents. Adding a new member to your family can be a great opportunity to feel even closer as a couple. Enjoy each other and enjoy your new baby.
Michelle Puster M.Ed. | Licensed Professional Counselor
Helping disconnected couples grow closer
Couples & Marriage Counseling Katy, TX