Prenatal Exercises: before the baby comes, nourish your partnership and prepare for the changes to come
Heart Opening Activity: Sit and face each other, heart to heart. Settle into a gentle eye gaze for just a moment. Take turns completing the statements
“I appreciate you for..."
“I love you for...”
“I’m excited for you to...” (something about the baby’s arrival & parenthood)
Preparing for External Change: Which aspects of life are you anticipating to change when baby arrives? In what way will responsibilities shift between the two of you? What outside help do you plan on receiving? Do you need to hire anyone? What conversations with family or support people do you need to plan?
Preparing for Inner Change: What kind of meaning do you associate with becoming a parent? What part of your life as an individual is important to continue after baby arrives? What feelings does your partner elicit within you that can be replicated after baby? Do you, your ancestral or religious tradition have any rituals or ceremonies for honoring the transition into parenthood?
Maintaining your relationship in the Postpartum Phase: The initial postpartum period can be a daunting time for couples who are adjusting to the demands of caring for a newborn, and the changes that come with parenthood. Every family's experience can be different, and the duration of this difficult time can vary. The first few weeks after bringing home a newborn can be particularly challenging. Sleep deprivation, feeding challenges, and the overall adjustment to a new way of life can all contribute to stress and tension in a relationship.
It's quite common for new parents to experience relationship struggles during this phase, as they navigate new responsibilities and changing identities. It's important to keep in mind that this challenging period is temporary, and as time passes, a new sense of normalcy will be established. By practicing open communication and mutual support, you and your partner can emerge stronger and better equipped to face the challenges of parenthood.
Tips for maintaining a healthy relationship during this transition:
Communicate openly: Share your feelings with your partner, both positive and negative. Be honest about your needs and concerns, and listen actively when your partner does the same.
Make time for each other: It can be a challenge to find time for yourselves with a newborn, but it's important to prioritize your relationship. Even just a few minutes a day of intentional quality time together will help maintain your sense of closeness.
Share responsibilities: Parenting can be exhausting, so it's important to share and assign responsibilities equally. This includes not only childcare but also household chores and other tasks. Discuss how your roles will need to change ahead of time, and reevaluate as needed.
Co-parent: Discuss and come up with solutions on parenting matters together, such as sleep and feeding schedules, childcare, soothing approaches etc., rather than relying on one parent to research and implement these choices. By establishing these co-parenting approaches early on, they’ll become part of your childrearing habits as your baby grows into childhood.
Seek support: Don't be afraid to ask for help when you need it. Reach out to family and friends, consider joining a support group for new parents, or hire extra support if you’re able.
Practice self-care: Yes, this is easier said then done with a newborn. Be sure to support each other when either of you needs some alone time. Sneak in moments of self-care: naps, quick workouts, manicures, even just an uninterrupted shower can go a long way.
Relationship Check-In Prompts for the Postpartum phase: (choose 3-4 for a weekly check-in)
What is something I’ve done lately that made you feel loved?
Is there something I can do to help you feel more supported?
Do you feel there is anything we need to improve in our relationship?
When was the last time I hurt your feelings and you decided not to say anything?
Is there anything about parenting that we’re not seeing eye-to-eye on?
Is there something we need to adjust to make the home run more smoothly?
Have you been experiencing any emotions you would like to share with me?
What are some things that we've been doing well as a team?