For most of us, when we’re having our first baby, we plan out the birth we hope for, ins and outs of breastfeeding, if and how we’ll go back to work, and of the best car seat to buy. We’ve got 9 months and a lot to think about!
But there’s something that gets lost in the planning that will impact your baby for life and it’s the most important thing you can do for him. It’s planning ahead to make sure your relationship with Dad is one of your main priorities. Because you’re not just having a baby, you’re building a family and at the very foundation of your family is yours and Dad’s relationship.
With all the stress, sleepless nights and responsibility a new baby brings, it’s no surprise that 2/3 of relationships go downhill after the baby comes. But with a little advance planning, yours doesn’t have to. So, before you’re feeling like a zombie from only 3 hours of sleep, stressed over breastfeeding challenges, or about to snap at your partner over who was supposed to do the dishes, think about this: Research shows us that when you and Dad keep your relationship in the top of your priorities, have a solid plan for working together and find a common vision and hope for your family’s future, your baby will grow up to feel more secure, be more confident, get better grades, be emotionally well –adjusted and do better socially.
Who wouldn’t want all those great things for their baby? But the cards are stacked against you, in ways you won’t even expect:
- You’ll be completely overwhelmed and exhausted.
- The oxytocin your body creates during pregnancy and birth to bond you to your baby can make you forget about Dad.
- You won’t be prepared for the amount of work that comes with a baby and the unpredictability of it.
- You’ll be shocked at how much of that work load falls to you, especially if you’re breastfeeding and/or are staying home with the baby and your partner goes to work.
As moms, we’re driven to put the baby first, but when you nurture your relationship with Dad, you are putting the baby first.
- Before your baby comes, when things are still sane, talk with Dad about the changes you can expect in your relationship.
- Make a list of things you like to do together. Big, small, cheap, expensive. If you wait until you’re in a new baby fog to make your list, you won’t be able to think of things. As soon as the craziness of a newborn dies down, pull your list out and do something from it. At first you’ll have to force yourself, but no matter how small, do it! You’ll be building your relationship muscle.
- Communicate. There are going to be things that worry you, irritate you, and frustrate you with your partner. He’ll feel the same way. Don’t let these things fester – don’t assume you know what’s in someone else’s mind. Sometimes we play a reel in our heads of what our partners are thinking or why they’ve done something, but we can be wrong. And we only know by talking about it. Once a week, ask each other, “What can I do to make things easier for you?”
- Make sure that you continue to kiss, touch and hug your partner, even though it won’t lead up to sex for a while. When you lose the closeness of touch, it’s much harder to get back to being intimate once you’re ready.
- Make a commitment to connect with each other every day. Even if it’s only for 15 minutes, you’re letting the other know that they and your relationship are a priority.
These steps may sound simple and easy, but some days it will be a challenge to even shower, let alone think about your relationship with your partner. With a little planning ahead of time and team work though, you and Dad can make sure to keep your relationship alive and strong. There’s nothing better for your baby!