You’re no longer a party of two. And for parents of multiple children, your home may be feeling much busier these days. This means that your relationship with your S.O. may have taken the back seat as you navigate this whole parenting thing. But prioritizing your relationship may help provide some much-needed love and support throughout this transitional time. And while it may feel like time and energy are in short supply these days, the sooner you work to create healthy habits and communication practices in your relationship now, the easier they will become in the future. To help with that, we consulted with reproductive physiatrist Dr. Sarah Oreck, M.D. to share a checklist of ways you can help your relationship post-baby.
“While the transition to parenthood is different for each couple, having a baby will certainly change your relationship,” explains Oreck. “One of the most common challenges that I see in relationships after childbirth is in renegotiating roles and the fairness of the distribution of responsibilities in the home and parenting. Other common concerns include navigating sex after childbirth, identity shifts in each partner as they transition to parenthood, and the impacts that sleep deprivation can cause on all of this.”
According to Oreck, that means that now more than ever it is essential to practice clear, but sensitive and empathic, communication with your partner. Ready to start?
If you need something, just ask.
"Remember, your partner is not a mind reader and the reality is that both of you are new at this. Even if you’re on your second or third child."
Wait until after the heat of the moment to have important discussions.
"Keep in mind that sleep deprivation from a new baby can often lead to irritability and difficulty in problem-solving."
Talk about your roles.
"Who will do the laundry? Who will clean the bathroom? How will you switch off with diaper and feeding duties? It’s important to get down to the nitty-gritty in terms of the distribution of chores."
Sometimes, just listen.
"We too quickly can jump to problem-solving mode, which can leave our significant other feeling unheard. Instead, practice listening supportively and with curiosity."
Give constructive criticism, not just criticism.
"It’s important to be as constructive as possible during this time and at all times, really. The transition to parenthood can involve many doubts and a significant learning curve. It’s essential to focus on actionable changes your partner might make to make co-parenting easier, instead of focusing on their shortcomings."
Remember you are a team!
"You are both learning how to be new parents or new parents of multiple children. Communicate openly about strategies and feelings."
Talk openly about intimacy.
"It can be challenging to jump back into a sexual relationship given your caregiving responsibilities, sleep-deprivation, and changes your body may have gone through during pregnancy, delivery and breastfeeding. It’s essential to take things slow and to communicate clearly about your level of desire and concerns about pain or discomfort to avoid any feelings of resentment or rejection by either partner."
How are you and your S.O. navigating parenthood and your relationship at this time? Share your story by joining the Perelel community on social or by subscribing to our newsletter.
This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and we recommend that you always consult with your healthcare provider. To the extent that this article features the advice of physicians or medical practitioners, the views expressed are the views of the cited expert and do not necessarily represent the views of Perelel.