Becoming a parent is probably one of the biggest changes to any relationship since you and your partner first got together.
It is a period of transition as new dimensions are added to your relationship and your own individual lives.
Focusing on your little bundle of joy is only natural. New parents can, however, end up neglecting each other in the whirlwind of dirty nappies and sleepless nights.
But it is important for all of you – including your new baby – that the relationship responsible for creating your little marvel remains strong, loving and secure.
To help first time parents do that we have pulled together our Relationship Tips for New Parents as a guide to keeping your relationship happy and healthy.
Families come in all shapes and sizes
Families come in all shapes and sizes. Whatever your family looks like, a new baby will mean change for everyone.
Take time to introduce children to their new sibling or step-sibling.
Ships that pass in the night
In the early days when you are both tired, you spend time taking turns to look after your new baby and giving each other a break to sleep, shower and so on.
Be careful that this doesn’t develop into your pattern – you need quality time together as adults, and as a couple.
The intensity of the love you feel for your new baby might feel greater than the love you have for your partner.
This is normal – you haven’t fallen out of love with your partner, it’s just your body’s way of helping you connect with your baby.
Ups and downs
Hormonal changes and sleep deprivation can lead to high emotions. Watch out for snapping, criticising, and blaming each other.
Be patient with each other and listen to each other’s perspective. Look out for ways to make each other feel included, less overwhelmed, and more confident.
Sex after childbirth
Give your sex life time to recover. Childbirth creates body changes and for some women, it’s a sensual experience; for others, it’s an exhausting and bruising one.
With time and patience sex will be fun again; you just might need to do a little more planning.
Babies are expensive
How can something so small cost so much? Financial pressures are a source of stress within all relationships.
Talk about what you need to buy and what can be borrowed from friends and family. Talk about your finances and how you can realistically manage your budget.
Looking after baby
There can be a change in the balance of your relationship if one person is staying at home to look after the baby.
Be sensitive, talk about how this feels, and find ways to share responsibilities.
For more tips on bringing up a baby and making your relationship work, visit our How to Bond with Your Baby page.
What’s my name?
It’s not just the inevitable post-birth memory loss! You are now Mum or Dad, but remember those times before you had your beautiful baby when you had your own identity.
Take time with each other to be yourselves – to be ‘just us’. ‘Me time’ is important but so is a healthy dose of ‘we time’.
Having a baby doesn’t change the problems which might have already existed in your relationship. If you have underlying problems in your relationship, we recommend accessing support early.
Everyone has an opinion on what to do with your baby. Enthusiastic advice can be overwhelming and sound like interference. Be clear about what you want and what your new family needs.
Making time to listen
Take time out to talk about how things have changed since your baby arrived.
People often deal differently with change and the upheaval it brings with it, and that’s OK.
Not everyone can be a ‘good talker’ but being a good listener can make all the difference.