And Baby Makes Three (or four, or more)
Making time- you and your partner
The birth of a baby can test even the strongest of relationships. A recent study concluded that many new mothers reported feeling physically and emotionally less satisfied following childbirth (28). Some women reported feelings of loss of freedom and loss of time together as a couple. Often women reported a significant change in their intimate time together.
The good news is that things will change. The biggest issue is that babies are labour intensive, and their sleep patterns are erratic in the first few months. Other issues that can cause tension include lack of sleep, sharing the workload, and money. Indeed, your life will never be the same after having children.
Once you have a baby, it’s often difficult to make time for yourself, let alone your partner – but it’s important to make time to do things you both enjoy. Get a takeaway, watch a movie or take the baby for a walk. This will give you both the opportunity to talk about how you are feeling. If you have family close, take them up on their offer to watch the baby while you go for coffee or to the shops – you don’t have to be away from your baby for long.
If you are breastfeeding your baby, you may find that your partner will feel a little excluded as it seems you are the only person that can do the job. However, if you express some breastmilk, your partner can step in from time to time and feed your baby too. He can also take on the role of bathing or changing the baby. These contributions will then become his special bonding time.
If this is not your first baby, you may also experience guilt over other children. The new baby will consume a lot of your time and energy. If you are breastfeeding your baby, you will need to keep your other children safe and busy, especially if you’re home alone.
Before you begin to breastfeed, give your toddler a special toy, book or DVD that you keep for breastfeeding time. It can also be helpful for young children to have a baby doll of their own to care for. Make sure that you have something to eat and drink for your child before you start to breastfeed but prepare for interruptions.
Spend as much one-on-one time as you can with your older children. Even 15 minutes can make a huge difference. If you have a young child, perhaps do some drawing or painting and make this a special time for you and them. Going for a walk to the park with your new baby and toddler gives you time with your older child and can also boost your energy levels. Accept the help of grandparents and other family members if they offer to look after other children.
Boundaries and break time
This help will give you a break and time to catch up on some sleep and uninterrupted time to bond with your new baby. Be consistent; your life is changing, but your other children still need you. Try and keep to the same bedtime routines, even if it’s not you that puts your child to bed. It helps to maintain existing boundaries. It’s not unusual for a child to play up when a new baby arrives, but continue to treat them with love and patience as you help them to adapt to the change in their life.
Rest. Your new baby and other children all need their mum. Try not to let yourself get overtired by doing too much. No one expects everything to be tidy and under control in a house with a new baby and other children. Most visitors are happy to make everyone a cup of tea and even help with the chores.
While pets are usually accepting and even encompassing or protective of new additions to the family, it may take them a while to adjust.
Here’s some tips for merging your fur babies with your new baby!
When you bring your new baby home, make sure your pets are well-exercised beforehand.
- One parent should hold the pet while the other holds the baby.
- Look for body language from your pet and be guided by this.
- Slowly introduce your new baby to your pet and be in control.
- Be aware to never to leave a baby alone with your pet, especially when your baby is on the floor.
- Be inclusive of your pet when you have visitors over.
Remember your pet was part of the family first.
Karen Milner (BSc) Registered Nurse, Registered Midwife
Photo by Anneka used under license from Shutterstock.com