Baby fever has hit the UK as the royal couple celebrate the arrival of their first child. Relate, the UK’s leading relationship support organisation, offers a five point survival guide for any couples coping with their first child.
Sometimes it can feel like nine months just isn’t long enough to get everything ready for your new baby. In the midst of nursery painting and pram selection, it’s important to plan out how you want your relationship to adapt once you have become parents. As Relate counsellor, Monica Atkins says, “It can be really tricky to make the transition from being a couple to being parents. But talking throughout the pregnancy about the sort of parents you want to be can really help. Consider things like ‘how will we make time for each other?’ and ‘will we sleep in the same bed when the baby is very young?’”
It’s easy to say that you need to make time to be a couple, but when the reality hits, this can be really hard. Often, new parents find that when they do get time together, they just want to sleep or switch off. But Monica says, “Time together is so important. It doesn’t matter what you do – some couples go out for dinner, some just light a few candles and have a glass of wine together. Whether you’ve got 10 minutes or 24 hours (chance would be a fine thing!) just make sure that you’re listening to each other, doing something you used to do before the baby, and not talking about dirty nappies and night feeds.”
Sex isn’t everything…but it does help!
Many couples find that sex takes a back seat just after a baby. This is normal, but it’s important to maintain intimacy. Monica advises, “Sex might be the last thing on your mind when you’re not getting a lot of sleep, and for some women, the changes to their bodies just after birth might not make you feel like getting busy. Equally, for men, a lack of sex can make them feel they have been pushed out by the arrival of the baby. But intimacy is still important, so spend time touching and indulging one another when you can. Have a bath together or treat each other to a massage. It’s important not to become strangers.”
Take it easy
Lack of sleep, changes in routine and the anxiety that comes with a new baby can make this a stressful time – even for royals! Try to go easy on each other. Monica says, “Try to remember that you’re both tired and stressed and that this is new for both of you. Instead of listing the things you’ve done or your partner hasn’t done, try to think through what their day has been like. Give each other space when you can and don’t forget that little gestures can go a long way.”
Monica’s most important advice is, “Keep talking. As with any time of big changes, your expectations, hopes and fears will change – and your partner may well be wonderful, but they’re probably not a mind reader. Keep telling each other how you’re feeling, what you need, and what they could do to make things easier. If you don’t keep talking, you will cease to operate as a couple, and end up just being parents – that’s not how it has to be.”
Relate offers information, advice and counselling to couples, individuals and families at any stage of their relationships. If a new arrival has put pressure on your relationship, contact Relate West Surrey for help and support.
Contact Relate West Surrey on 01483 715285 or www.relatewestsurrey.org.uk for more information.