Have you or your partner been more irritable, moody or withdrawn since the birth of your baby? You might be dealing with dad’s Postpartum or Postnatal Depression. Yes, it’s a thing. Thankfully, there’s plenty of help out there.
It’s been a month or so since you had your baby and things have started to settle down. You’re getting into a sort-of routine, the visitors have dried up and bub excelled at their last health check. Now it’s time for another important check-up: how’s your relationship doing?
This may come as a shock, but according to research, 67% of couples report declined relationship satisfaction in their baby’s first few years. So if you’re starting to sense this in your own relationship – don’t panic! You’re normal and you’re not alone! It doesn't mean there's anything wrong with you, your partner or your partnership - you have probably both been doing an extra great job of giving your precious newborn all your love, attention, and energy. Now you can relax and start to send some of it your partner’s way again.
So when the washing pile is low enough for you to both to peer over it, you might want to check in and see how your partner is doing. They might be missing you - and how things were between you. Some dads can feel a bit excluded through pregnancy, birth and early parenting. I remember one new dad saying this:
"We've got a baby, but I've lost my wife."
Chances are, when you have time to actually stop and reflect, you’ve been missing your partner too. So now’s the time to turn it around and for you both to re-connect as a couple at the same time you’re both bonding with your baby.
To take that first step back to each other, when you have a quiet time, initiate an open conversation. Acknowledge how things have been for you, and ask your partner how they’re doing. From there, make it a priority for the health of your relationship to spend time together, even just for a few minutes, to catch up with each other.
Just as your baby is doing, you’re both going through some big changes and adjustments - most of them occurring on the inside. Let your partner in and let them know you want to know what’s happening inside them too. Here’s a great resource for you both to read as a starting point.
Then it’s the little things that can make a big difference.
Easy to forget in the blur of sleep deprivation, but a simple “please” and “thankyou” shows your appreciation for each other. Apologising if you say something hurtful mends harm. A hug morning and night lovingly bookends each day. Texting or emailing fond thoughts to each other in between means you can stay connected even if your days are now so different.
Sharing a foot rub or taking a walk together in the evenings are a great way to celebrate your relationship – after all, that’s what created your beautiful bub in the first place.
And, over time, they will thank you for it.