Relationships After Birth
If you’re in a relationship and are pregnant or you’ve given birth, you may be wondering how this will affect your relationship.
For those that have practiced and used Hypnobirthing, hopefully there was a sense of connection & presence in your relationship through pregnancy and labour.
For those with partners on paternity leave there is the potential to keep the baby bubble you are in going for a little longer after birth but at some point things change and how does a relationship withstand those changes?
HAVE GOOD FOUNDATIONS
Relationships based on understanding and respect have stronger foundations to withstand the psychological and physical changes a baby brings. If you feel that this requires some support to establish or re-find in your relationship, get some support before you have a baby, or even afterwards. A relationship counsellor or even books can be really useful resource; Relate have a series of books that you can work through together and can be more affordable and accessible that private counselling.
Talk to each other but more than that also deeply listen to each other. Understanding is key to helping stay connected and not develop resentments.
Pregnancy and parenthood are a time of change for everyone. For women having babies, the body, hormones and emotions are changing, the more we can talk about and have these changes held in a space of acceptance, the easier it is to stay connected and not build up resentments.
Likewise for partners, having a baby changes so much and more suddenly too; partners don’t experience the physical and neurological preparations pregnant women and mothers do, or in the same way. They perhaps have concerns about work and family life, how to support, what to do ( I know these occur for mothers too).
If things feel different then it may be because they are. Some of these changes are short lived, like feeding and distrurbed sleep, whilst others have a lasting effect. Find out what is happening for you physically at each stage so you can talk about it and support each other, rather than feel feel these changes are personal, when many are biological and are biologically and neurologically designed to ensure we can look after our babies.
MAKE TIME FOR EACH OTHER
During Hypnobirthing courses I recommend couples create an oxytocin date night regularly. I recommend the same after birth too and keep it going.
Even if you’re baby is around in those early years put some time aside to create a nice atmosphere, be together, watch a movie or do something non-parent related and enjoy yourselves. Try not to talk about parenting, if possible, put other time aside for that. Nourish each other in your regular special time together.
Sex and intimacy are big parts of any relationship and I’m going to do another blog post about sex but here are some initial thoughts.
Understand where each other is at. Many women experience a natural lowering of libido or concerns about sex after birth, whilst for men this may remain unchanged.
If this is the case work out other ways to maintain intimacy; perhaps a massage on a date night, a shared shower or a regular cheeky snog as you pass through the house, can all help keep that sense of sexiness and intimacy alive.
KNOW YOUR LOVE LANGUAGES
We each have a way we like to receive love, whether it be through acts of service, words of affirmation, touch, receiving gifts or quality time.
Find out which yours are and your partners. Then fill each other’s cups with this love language whenever you can.
To find out more check out Gary Chapman’s book, The Five Love Languages
We all had a set of emotional needs that we require to be met by ourselves and those around us to keep us in the best emotional health. Being Heard, status, privacy and being given attention are some of them.
Think about what your emotional needs are and check if you feel they are currently being fulfilled. Do what you can to support each other in meeting those needs as fully as possible. This may also mean getting some support where possible from family or childcare to give yourself some time.
As couples we tend to be able to manage our own lives and expectations of each other. Having children often changes this as we start to rely on each other for time away from the home and children, or support in those areas.
Our expectations of family life are made up largely by our own experiences in childhood and the role modelling we have witnessed. We tend to either unconsciously look to re-create the patterns we saw in our own childhood or consciously create new role expectations.
Find out about each others, what images do you have of mother and father figures?
It’s amazing how they may vary from each others and it’s important to bring compassion and understanding to the conversation as you work out the practical ways forward, for each of you and your family. Will you have a stay at home parent? How will finances be earned and managed? What are you parenting styles? How will domestic tasks be managed?
If birth or parenthood is triggering any previous or childhood traumas then get support, so that you can be as emotionally free as possible to enjoy your role and family life.
TAKE CARE OF YOURSELVES
A healthy relationship is made up of two individuals who have an identity and a sense of purpose in their individual lives and bring these together to form a nourishing union. The matrescence (changes in motherhood) bring with them many changes to our sense of identity and purpose and the same happens to father figures who may find themselves with new responsibilities and expectations.
Find small regular ways of nourishing yourselves to top your own cups of confidence and identity; perhaps a class, meditation, reading time or a walk – whatever works for you that you access regularly. Check out the Postnatal mum events on our page for regular mum care.
Finally where you can, have fun on this parenting ride together. Enjoy your baby together and enjoy the changes together. Babies and children change so quickly. Within years you are in a totally different space.
Find the spaces where you can laugh, hug and adventure together as much as possible.
Honestly, the days feel like years and the weeks seem to fly by when you have a family. Support each other where possible and enjoy the highs and cushion lows.
Sakina Ballard is a KGH trained Hypnobirthing teacher, a Positive Birth Movement Facilitator and Birth Trauma Resolution Practitioner based in South London / Croydon
Groups and sessions are online or held in Central London, Dulwich, Crystal Palace, Beckenham, Sydenham, Addiscombe, Norwood and the surrounds. www.tranquilbirth.co.uk