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Keeping Your Relationship Strong After the Birth of Your Baby
- One or both partners feeling so tired that they have little interest in sex
- One partner having more interest in sex than the other
- Sexual conflicts or increased arousal with breastfeeding
- Interrupted lovemaking
- Postpartum depression
Defining Parental Roles
- Accept that you will probably feel overwhelmed by your new responsibilities. Most new mothers feel the same way.
- At times, you will probably feel unappreciated, resentful, envious, or even scared. Do not keep these feelings inside. Make time to talk calmly and openly with your partner about how you are feeling and to ask for help and emotional support.
- Encourage your partner to help you care for your baby. Be supportive of his help, even when he does not do things the way you would like them done. Make it a point to thank him for helping and to tell him how much this means to you.
- Look for the humor in your new experiences—it will help make the rough times smoother.
- Be sure that you and your partner schedule some regular time to be together each day, even if it is not much.
- Keep the lines of communication open with your partner. She needs to know what you are feeling and how she can help. At the same time, she needs your support. If you want to talk, try to schedule it at a time when your partner is not overwhelmed and exhausted (such as after being up all night with a crying baby. It may be best to schedule time to talk when the baby has gone to bed or when someone else is watching the baby. If you are feeling frustrated and stressed, talk about your feelings instead of blaming or criticizing your partner.
- If you are worried about finances and feel the need to work longer and harder at your job, communicate this to your partner. Although you may feel this pressure, it is important to balance work and home life until a routine is established. Try to work your normal day and go home to pitch in. Once things even out, you can discuss working longer.
- It is normal to feel a bit awkward handling your new baby. However, the more you participate in caring for your baby, the easier it will get and the more comfortable you will feel.
- Look for opportunities to help out. Holding and cuddling your new baby will help establish an important bond. Help your partner with diaper changing and bottle-feeding, and be supportive and encouraging if your partner decides to breastfeed.
- If your spouse has been trying to comfort a crying baby for a while, offer to hold and comfort the baby yourself, or help with some of the other chores to ease your partner's burden. Keep in mind that your partner may be feeling exhausted and unappreciated, especially during the first three months. Find opportunities to relieve her burdens and be sure to show your appreciation.
American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists http://www.acog.org
National Women's Health Information Center http://www.womenshealth.gov
The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada http://www.sogc.org/index%5Fe.asp
Women's Health Matters http://www.womenshealthmatters.ca
10 Tips for New Fathers. World of Psychology Psych Central website. Available at: http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2011/06/19/10-tips-for-new-fathers/ Updated June 2011. Accessed January 11, 2013.
30 Tips for New Dads. Being the Best Father You Can Be Before, During, and After Delivery. Parent Wonder website. Available at: http://www.parentwonder.com/30-tips-for-new-dads-being-the-best-father-you-can-be-before-during-and-after-delivery/. Updated November 12, 2007. Accessed January 11, 2013.
Citak N, Cam C, Arslan H, et al. Postpartum sexual function of women and the effects of early pelvic floor muscle exercises. Acta Obstet Gynecol Scand . 2010;89(6):817-822.
Johnson, CE. Sexual health during pregnancy and the postpartum. J Sex Med . 2011;8(5):1267-1284.
Postpartum period. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed/what. Updated October 12, 2012. Accessed January 11, 2013.
Recovering from Birth. US Department of Health and Human Services Womens Health website. Available at: http://womenshealth.gov/pregnancy/childbirth-beyond/recovering-from-birth.html. Updated September 27, 2010. Accessed January 11, 2013.
Roles Within the Family. American Academy of Pediatrics Healthy Children website. Available at: http://www.healthychildren.org/English/family-life/family-dynamics/Pages/Roles-Within-the-Family.aspx. Updated January 2, 2013. Accessed January 11, 2013.
- Reviewer: Brian Randall, MD
- Review Date: 01/2013
- Update Date: 01/11/2013