Oh baby! Growing Through the Relationship Challenges of New Parenthood

You planned, anticipated, and now your little one is here! Having a baby is life-changing – in fact, having a baby changes everything, including who you are as a person. Your entire perspective changes, and you become something brand new: a parent. With all these changes, it is natural for your relationships to grow and evolve, including your relationship with your spouse or partner. Stress, sleep deprivation, and hormones can lead to a disorienting place and can have you wondering if your relationship will ever get back to normal! Relationship challenges in new parenthood are common and completely normal. Here are some helpful suggestions to ensure you and your partner grow and change together.

Physical Intimacy

For the first six weeks after birth, sex is off the table. Taking the physical connection away from a relationship for this amount of time can be alienating and frustrating. Realistically, even when you are allowed to be sexually active again, you may not feel like it. Lack of sleep, a healing body, stress, and hormones can move physical intimacy way down your list of priorities! So, how do you keep this from becoming a wedge between you and your partner?

  • Take it slow. Just because you get the “green light” at six weeks doesn’t mean you need to open the floodgates and expect everything to go back to normal! You and your body are still healing, and your partner is going through massive changes as well. It is normal for things to feel different because they are different! Take it slow and start by fostering your emotional intimacy and romantic relationship. Emotional closeness will make the transition back to physical closeness smooth and easy!


  • Practice normalcy. Don’t make a big production out of restarting your physical intimacy; ease back into it normally. Taking an exciting getaway or making a big deal out of a special date night sounds nice, but this can set unrealistic expectations for your sex life going forward. Instead, try being intimate during your normal routine – maybe after the baby is down for the night or during naptime! This is a standard you can maintain and won’t set unrealistic expectations for the future.


  • Be mindful of your healing body. While conventional wisdom says your body will be healed and ready for sex around the six-week mark, it is normal and expected for things to take a bit longer to feel completely back to normal. Be realistic about where you are in the healing process and be kind to your body! It carried your baby, delivered your baby, and is now keeping your baby alive – don’t minimize what your body has been through! Take it easy, be gentle, and don’t be afraid to buy a good lube to make things easier and gentler.


You may find that after the baby arrives, your communication with your partner will suffer. You’re all in survival mode as you adjust to meeting the needs of a newborn! Communication after baby may become more transactional and less relational – deciding who is getting up with the baby or whose turn it is to change the dirty diaper may dominate your conversations, leaving you disconnected on a deeper level.

  • Be intentional. Anticipate that you will need to set aside time to foster connection with your partner. Whether it’s having dinner together after the baby goes to bed or getting a sitter so you can enjoy a night out, make sure you prioritize intentional time with each other.


  • Keep it simple. There’s no need to make a big production out of it. Playing a board game or video game together, or having a simple meal where you can reconnect and focus on one another is all you need! While making time for a nice date out is a wonderful way to spend time together, if that seems overwhelming, just keep it simple!


Dividing responsibilities

A new baby comes with a plethora of new tasks and responsibilities. Feeding, changing, rocking, and putting the baby to bed are just a few of the tasks that you and your partner will take on! If one partner feels like they are taking on the majority of the responsibilities, that can lead to resentment and drive a wedge between the two of you.

  • Be clear about your needs. Remember that your partner can’t read your mind! If you’re feeling drained or overwhelmed, communicate that to your partner and let them know how they can help. Be clear and specific about how they can assist you and how you can balance the duties of newborn life.


  • Come up with a routine. Establish a loose schedule of responsibilities, such as setting the expectation that one partner will put the baby to bed, determining who will get up with the baby in the morning, who will make dinner, and who will be on diaper duty. Setting these loose parameters will help manage expectations and allow both of you to feel like you are contributing equally to the relationship and the care of your new little one. Leave room for flexibility so that if things change, it’s easy to adjust!

Baby blues

Even the most mentally healthy moms and dads can naturally struggle with the transformation into parenthood. Hormones, lack of sleep, and the massive life change of bringing a baby into the world can have your head spinning and make you feel like you’ve lost your footing!

  • Be kind to yourself. It’s okay to not feel like yourself. Give yourself grace and communicate to your partner when you’re feeling low. Keep in mind that your hormones are raging, and you’ve just brought a new life into the world! Those are enormous changes, and it’s natural to feel out of sorts for a time.


  • Be kind to your partner. While your partner may not have carried and delivered a baby, their life has also been turned upside down! The changes will also take a toll on their mental health, so when they seem to be feeling down or struggling to adjust, be empathetic and let them know you’re in their corner and that you two are a team.


Be patient

As your relationship adjusts to a brand-new family member, you will experience ups and downs and sometimes feel disoriented by all the adjustments you have to make. Be patient with yourself and with your partner, and together you will come through this period of adjustment stronger than ever!


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