Partnerships under strain Relationships are often strained by parenthood, no matter what they were like before. Part of the problem is that you have so much less time to spend with each other than you did before the baby arrived and its so much harder to get out together and enjoy the things you used to do. Your partner may feel left out. You may feel resentful at what you see as lack of support. The really hard times, when children take up all your energy, wont last for ever. Try to make time for each other when you can and do little things to make each other feel cared for and included.
Time to listen
Dont expect your partner, however close you were before the baby was born, to read your mind. Things are changing in both your lives and you have to talk about it. Your partner will not know what you want unless you say what it is and will not understand why youre resentful or angry unless you explain whats bothering you.
Ask a friend or relation to babysit so that you can have time together even if its just for a walk together in the park. Share the housework to make more time just to be together.
Share the housework to make more time just to be together.
Share the babycare too.
Talk about how you should bring up your children. You may find that you dont agree about basic matters such as discipline and attitudes. Try to work out a way of not always disagreeing in front of your children.
Babies and small children dont make for an easy sex life. Often you're tired, maybe too strained, and opportunities are limited. This hardly matters if both you and your partner are content. But if sex is a problem in any way at all, its important to look at what you can do. Unhappy sex, or just lack of it, can cause a lot of frustration and worry and can really strain relationships.
Immediately after the baby is born many women feel sore as well as tired. They may also be worried about the state of their body or about getting pregnant again.
Men can face problems too. Tiredness apart, a fathers sexual feelings will probably be much the same as before his babys birth.
But many men worry about whats right for their partner, are unsure what to do, and feel worried and frustrated.
If penetration hurts, say so. Its not pleasant to have sex if it causes you pain and if you pretend everything is all right when it isn't you may well start seeing sex as a chore rather than a pleasure, which wont help either of you. You can still give each other pleasure without penetration.
Be careful the first few times. Explore a bit with your own fingers first to reassure yourself that it won't hurt and use plenty of extra lubrication such as lubricating jelly: hormonal changes after childbirth may mean that you dont lubricate as much as usual.
Make time to relax together. There's little point trying to make love when your minds are on anything but each other.
Sort out contraception. Its possible to become pregnant again soon after the birth of a baby, even if youre breastfeeding, and even if you haven't started your period again. So, if you dont want to conceive again quickly, you need to use some kind of contraception from the start. Contraception is usually discussed before you leave hospital after your childs birth, and at the postnatal check-up. But you can go at any time, before or after a check-up, to your GP or family planning clinic, or talk with your health visitor.
If your baby sleeps in the same room as you, you may have to move either yourselves or your baby before you can relax enough to have sex.
Dont rush. Take time.
If youre still experiencing pain two months or so after the birth, talk to your doctor or family planning clinic about it. Treatment is available for a painful episiotomy scar. Ask to see an obstetric physiotherapist.
If this is your first baby you may be feeling very lonely and left out of your old life. Your partner cant supply everything that you used to get from work and friends. You need other people in your life too for support, friendship, and a shoulder to cry on. For support organisations, look in useful contacts.