How To Maintain Your Relationship After Having A Baby. 5 Ways To Stay Connected

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Moments of connection don’t have to be glamorous to be meaningful.

It has been a minute since you arrived home from the hospital or birth center with your new little one on tow. Now, you’re in the stage that you’ve heard so much about: sleep deprivation, learning all the new parenthood things, newborn cuddles, feeding your baby and adjusting to the reality that you’re now a parent. 

One thing that often comes up during this time of life is relationship struggles and tension. Some parents know to expect it (this happens to more than two thirds of couples, after all!). For others, this common issue hasn’t even occurred to them. That’s fair considering there’s so much to focus on and prepare for when starting or growing a family. 

In any case, a lot of new parents wonder why their relationship feels tense, awkward, or unfamiliar. That’s also why one really common question we get is: “How do I maintain my relationship after having a baby?” 

Let’s just state the facts. Having a new baby automatically leads to more responsibility, less sleep, increased stress, less personal time, and major identity shifts. For all of those reasons, relationship satisfaction can (and often does) take a hit. 

So how can you work to maintain your relationship and stay connected? Here’s guide to use as a starting off point.

Be realistic and confront difficulties early on

Let’s be real about what happens after a baby enters the picture. Your relationship will change because your schedule, identities, and personal responsibilities change. You can’t expect for all of those changes to occur without it impacting your relationship significantly. Life just doesn’t get neatly compartmentalized like that. 

You may want to consider some things like “damage controlling” your relationship before your due date or carving out time to have conversations about what’s actually important. 

For example, postpartum depression and anxiety are commonly experienced by both parents so how will you recognize the signs of declining mental health in one another? What styles of parenting do you agree with and what do you want to avoid? Are there any boundaries you need to set now? What about responsibility sharing? 

Lean into ritual 

It’s highly likely that whatever you did to connect before having kids (date nights, vacations, big anniversary celebrations, sleeping in on Sundays) may no longer be on the table. 

For that reason, establishing small rituals can be a great way to show thought and affection despite all the craziness. How that may look is up to you. Some possible options could be brewing coffee for one another to start the day off with care, sending a mid-day message to check-in, connecting for 15 minutes after the kids go to bed, or going for a walk with the family every Sunday. 

Protect your relationship with regular check-ins 

When we think about personal self-care, we often talk about protecting your peace. The same thing goes with maintaining a relationship after having a baby. Protection and being proactive can look like regular check-ins. Ask each other what’s going well, what isn’t, what feels hard, what you each expected from parenthood, and what you didn’t expect about your reality. 

These conversations help you get on the same page rather than assuming anything. Maybe this is how you realize that one parent is struggling, or that one is feeling that the divide of responsibility is unfair. 

It’s so much better to find that out early, rather than not realizing how much an issue is festering until it’s a problem. These check-ins don’t have to be so serious or boring! Have this conversation over a glass of wine on a Saturday or in the car during a summer family road trip. 

Adopt a less-is-more approach

Sometimes less is more and this is likely one of those times. Part of keeping things realistic means lowering expectations when necessary. Things like free time, stress levels, and sex drives tend to change so it’s helpful to be flexible and allow for those changes to happen. 

When we say “less is more,” we’re not saying accept or lean into lack of effort, poor communication, or to connect less. What we are saying is to allow things to be easy and appreciate small, but meaningful, moments. 

Sure, your pre-kids vacation might have been awesome but with this new context, maybe something like deep-belly laughs together or inviting your brother and sister-in-law over for a BBQ on the patio can be things you really value. It doesn’t have to be glamorous to be meaningful. 

Keep personal identity intact outside of parenthood

Who are each of you outside of your family and relationship? What are you and your partner’s personal goals, hobbies, needs, interests, styles, taste in food and music, etc.? Are you giving time to connect with those? 

In a blog post about connecting with each other it might be hard to understand why we’re talking about individual needs and interests. The thing is that many parents (especially mothers or primary caregivers) lose themselves to parenthood. If you have a healthy relationship and a happy partner, you have to allow space for personal growth and development. 

That means recognizing your partner’s need to have time off with friends, or money for their own self-care, passions, or expression, for example. Though this can sound annoyingly cliche, a relationship isn’t going to feel fulfilling and supportive if its individual members aren’t thriving on their own. 

New parenthood is a time of immense change. It’s so common that relationships become the emotional pain point you weren’t expecting. With more than two thirds of couples reporting a dip in relationship satisfaction, it’s fair to ask, “Well, how am I going to maintain my relationship once I have a baby?” Hopefully this guide has served as a useful jumping off point to prioritize your relationship so that there can be less tension or confusion as you figure out this parenting thing together. 

And as always, our team at The Perinatal Collective are here to help! Our team of counsellors are qualified to support clients through a variety of struggles from pregnancy to the days of raising school-aged children. We are here to help you navigate relationship challenges, changes, problems related to sexuality, mood changes after having a baby, and more. 

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About The perinatal collective

Welcome! So glad you're here. 

We're a team of mental health therapists across Canada with advanced education and experience in perinatal mental health, meaning you don't have to cross your fingers and hope that we understand how hard this stage can be.

We understand the nuances of the early stages of parenthood: how typical counselling strategies may not be relevant to parents with young kids, and how mental health challenges look different during this time.  

From deciding to have children, to navigating your journey through fertility, pregnancy, birth, postpartum, relationship changes, parenting, career demands and beyond, parenthood can be full with challenges.

Our goal is to help you manage the peaks and valleys of the entire journey, while staying connected to yourself, and feeling whole, along the way.