You will go from being two to three (or four or five or more!) overnight to staying in and feeding a baby which is just about the biggest change that any relationship can go through. It is important to understand that things will be different. I know how obvious that sounds but it is surprising how many people are not prepared for things to alter. So have a conversation about it – have several if that helps but its good to have a strategy, to voice any concerns that you may have before the baby comes.
The list below is one of things to think about – some of them may be a no brainer you already both know how you feel, others may be things that you haven’t considered. You are not expected to have answers to any of these before the baby is born but it is worth making sure that there are things you agree on. Things such as visitors (when and who can come) and making time for each other are really important to have set before the baby is born. It is also vital to understand that any of the decisions you make based on the questions below should not be binding as things change.
Things to consider:-
- How will we handle visitors to the hospital and in the period once the baby comes home?
- Are we allowing visitors the moment we get home from hospital?
- Who do we want to see and when? Just close family at the hospital? If someone unexpected or uninvited turns up what should we do?
- When are you telling everyone about the baby? (A good tip is tell one person and have them be the point of contact as that will save dad being bombarded with messages or set up a whatsapp group and just use that)
- Can we ask those visitors to help us with food deliveries or looking after the baby?
Top tip: Set up a WhatsApp group and have everyone you want to tell in it. Then make one or two people admins and they are the people you talk to whilst you’re busy at the hospital. Saves you the stress of answering 100’s of messages and leaves you free to concentrate on each other.
- If mum is asleep when visitors arrive – what do you want to do? Wake her or let her sleep?
- How will we handle night feedings?
- I really want to breastfeed – please support me.
- Breastfeeding is not going the way I thought it would – support me if I don’t want to do it anymore.
- Who is doing the cooking?
- Are we co-sleeping? When will the baby go in their own room?
- Vaccinations – are we doing that? (Please note in order to attend school here in Bahrain a fully completed vaccination schedule is a legal requirement)
- Circumcision – are we doing that?
- How do you feel about discipline?
- Are we raising our child to believe in our religion or will we let them choose?
- Is the baby being christened? Having a naming day?
- Are we introducing the baby to everyone at a big party? Or having people pop in?
- My body will have changed – please understand that I may struggle with that.
- It’s ok to miss days before baby, its ok to miss each other
- I’m really worried that I won’t cope, that I get post partum depression/anxiety/rage – will you please help me when I say that I’m struggling?
- Can we try and work it so that we both get a lie in once a week?
- How will we make time for each other?
- How are we both going to have some alone time – just me, not you, not the baby, just me?
- If mum is staying at home with the baby will dad be taking over when he comes in? Or getting a brain break to step in after a while?
- Do you want anyone smoking in the house?
- If either one of us wants some alcohol – is that ok?
- If we fancied a night away who would we trust to have the baby?
- Are we going to get this baby into a routine? How strict should that routine be?
- I want the baby in a properly secured car seat
- What are we going to do with the dog/cat etc?
- Have we made arrangements for work/pets/other children to be taken care of?
Respect the fact that you both love the baby and each other but you will have different ways of doing things.
You will need to step up to do things you haven’t done before and also step back to allow your partner to do things in their own way. Trust each other to do the right thing.
Lets talk sex. After birth a woman body has done the most amazing thing. It has made a human from a bit of each of you a new life has been created. However there will be wobbly bits, sore bits, bigger breasts. There may be scars and lines, tiredness, aches and pains in parts that you didn’t know existed before. For many women their post partum body is not quite their own, they haven’t bounced back like the images we see of women on the TV. Postpartum sex can hurt especially if you have torn and/or had an episiotomy. Plus there is this little person that needs you constantly – it can be really hard to switch from mum to wife. So what to do?
- Lubricate – buy KY jelly for you both to enjoy
- Relax – when the baby is asleep just be close to each other, hold hands – intimacy doesn’t have to mean sex
- Take your time – this will enhance your connection to each other
- If it hurts then say so! Stop. Change position.
- Experiment with different positions
- Do your pelvic floor exercises
- If it takes time, if it means doing things differently, if it just ends in a cuddle then it is OK
Parenting is made up of phases. Every day you will show up. Some days will be knock out dreadful and others flow like liquid gold. Remember it is all just a phase.