Parenthood is a beautiful and transformative journey, but it comes with its share of challenges and surprises. When you're expecting a baby, there are numerous preparations to make, from decorating the nursery to selecting baby names. However, one aspect that often gets overlooked is the essential conversations you need to have with your partner before the arrival of your little one. While nothing can fully prepare you for the adventures & challenges of parenthood, you can take steps to ensure you and your partner are on the same page. In this blog post, I'll dive into these crucial discussions and to help you navigate the transition into parenthood more smoothly.
Changing of Relationship Dynamics:
One of the most significant adjustments that couples face when having a baby is the shift in their relationship dynamics. What exactly are "relationship dynamics"? They are: the patterns of behaviour that happen between people in the ways we relate, interact and communicate with each other. While, logically, we know that things will change after baby, if we are not prepared for HOW that might look, we will continue to go into our normal routines, which can lead to potential stress and conflicts. .
Example: Before we had our first baby, I took care of the grocery shopping, laundry, vacuuming and general cleaning, since I worked from home. My husband primarily cooked the meals, did the dishes, took out trash and whatnot. However, after having a baby, I wasn't able to vacuum or stand for long periods, so he took up these roles for a while until I felt ready to do them again.
This was tough for me to admit and ask for help; I felt guilty, like I was incapable of doing things--and that's true! I physically wasn't capable of handling these seemingly easy tasks, but when you just had a baby, your body needs rest.
You're not being lazy, you're healing.
Having a conversation--or a few conversations--before baby arrives about how these roles & responsibilities may change a bit for the first several weeks after baby arrives will help relieve so much unnecessary stress, guilt and resentment.
**Note for the mommas--your partner is not a mind reader and they do not see things the way we do; if there is something that you would like help with, you have to speak up. It's not that they "can't see" the basket of laundry and whatever else that YOU see as needing done, they filter and prioritize things comepletely different than we do and that's biology, not their lack of understanding. So if the pile of laundry is bothering you, ask them if they can help you with it.
Role of Your Partner:
It's essential to clarify your partner's role during this time. While they may not bond with the baby immediately, their primary role should be to nurture and support you as you nurture your child. Understanding, again, this is biologically how we have evolved, can help reduce any concerns about your partner not bonding with the baby. Yes, they will love the baby, hold and change the baby, but the baby and dad are not meant to bond at this time. That will come later once baby is moving and understanding they are separate from momma. The dad/partners role is to nurture and provide for the momma, so momma can care and nurture the baby.
Personal Experience: My husband would help make sure my giant water bottle was always filled, that my "nursing basket" was filled with snacks, burp clothes, book, whatever I needed while nursing or pumping. He would make sure my peri bottle was filled with warm water, my padsicles were ready and my bathroom essentials were stocked. During night feedings, he would get up help me with my pillows, then burp and change baby after. We created this life together, we support this baby together.
Building a Support System:
Being proactive by creating your support team before baby arrives can make all the difference. I recommend to pregnant clients all the time to make sure they have a therapist and a Pelvic Floor Physical Therapist locked in. Don't wait until you've had a mental breakdown to start seeing a therapist, start building a relationship with them before baby, so you can start building your resources for coping with stress/anxiety etc. And let me be real honest, every single momma could use support after having a baby. Having someone you can talk to every week about what you're experiencing would be a GAME CHANGER in decreasing the rates of PPD/ PPA.
The same goes for a Pelvic Floor Therapist! We have been told that we only go to them once we start having issues with controlling our bladder. We've been fed this narrative that once you have kids you won't be able to laugh, cough or jump on a trampoline without leaking a bit. BULL SHIT! When my husband had knee surgery he was AUTOMATICALLY given 8 weeks of physical therapy because they understand the NEED to rehab the muscles/ligaments etc after a major surgery and being non-weight bearing for a long period of time. So, when a woman's body changes over the course of 10 months, gains 50+ pounds --all resting on her pelvic floor muscles--then either pushes the baby out with those muscles or has them cut to retrieve the baby--WHY do we not prescribe physical therapy for that?
Sorry, for that rant. You can tell I'm clearly passionate about this and how important it is for our health. There are exercises you can do to help navigate your birth experience more easily, then after baby they will help you with exercise to heal.
Also talk about which friends and family members you can have come by to help with various tasks. Whether it's doing the dishes, laundry, vacuuming or running simple errands. Maybe having someone come over to help cook dinner a few nights a week. We are not meant to raise are babies in solitude--they say it takes a village for a reason, so start creating your village. Asking for support is a sign of strength, and by having people know ahead of time you're going to lean on them during this time will allow you to fully heal and spend precious time with your baby.
Reconnecting as a Couple:
While the initial weeks can be a blur, it's vital to find moments to reconnect as a couple. Creating space for the two of you to connect early on will help limit any feelings of disconnect or resentment that tend to creep in during this time. Connecting can look like: sitting outside or taking the baby on a walk while they nap in the stroller. Doing a puzzle together, laying in bed and reading a book, even taking a nap together! Yes, I know it can be very appealing to curl up on the couch and want to binge some Netflix, I'm not saying don't do that, but I encourage you to be more intentional and have more quality time away from screens than with them.
**Note on physical touch and intimacy--the 6 week appointment has become synonymous with getting the "all clear" to have sex again. And for a majority of women that's not the case. So having this talk before hand can also help limit any feelings of disappointment or feeling of not being desired. For more on this you can check out my other blog post where I cover it more in depth.
Preparing for parenthood is not just about choosing the right stroller or setting up the nursery. It's about creating a strong foundation for your family, one built on communication, support, and love. By having these important conversations and seeking the help you need, you can embark on this incredible journey with confidence and a sense of unity.
If you found this post helpful, share it with friends or family members who might be going through a similar phase. And feel free to reach out if you have more questions or need guidance on any aspect of parenthood. We're here to support you on this incredible journey.
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