Maybe you’ve just found out that you’re pregnant , or maybe you and your partner have been trying to decide when to have kids. Either way, it’s important to consider all of the ways that having a child will affect your relationship. Taking care of a baby is a lot of work. The stress it can cause and the time it will eat up can take a tremendous toll on you and your partner’s relationship.
That’s why it’s really important to start preparing yourself for the big changes you’ll be encountering long before your baby is actually born.
It may seem like an obvious tip, but if you really want to start out on the right foot, take the steps to make sure you or your partner doesn’t get pregnant on accident. Even though many surprise pregnancies turn out to be happy accidents, the shock of the surprise can add extra stress. Always practice safe sex if you’re not ready for a baby yet.
That’s particularly true if one of you is less prepared for parenthood than the other, or if your relationship isn’t very serious yet. Just watch one episode of Sixteen and Pregnant, and you’ll understand why it’s better to have a child that you’ve planned for with someone you truly love. Whether your pregnancy is planned or not, once you find out about it, you need to have a talk with your partner.
Allow yourselves to experience all the emotions of the moment—excitement, happiness, nervousness, etc. Openly discuss your hopes and fears and promise to be there for each other when either of you needs to talk about your impending parenthood.
Before the baby arrives, be sure to discuss how you’re going to split up the childcare duties. There are so many things to deal with, from diaper changes and feedings to playtime and going for walks. If you try to balance your roles, neither of you will have the chance to feel resentful toward the other one for not pulling their weight. Of course, once the baby actually arrives, it may be hard to stick to your exact plans, but just having a rough idea of what to do will help you both.
It’s also really important that you savor the last few months before your baby is born. Take advantage of any time you have to be together in a one-on-one setting. Any romantic or passionate moments that you can enjoy now should be taken advantage of, because once the baby shows up, you’ll both be way too busy. Sex will be nonexistent for awhile, not only because a woman has to wait for a bit after giving birth, but also because you’ll both likely be too overwhelmed and exhausted to consider it.
Once you’re both feeling better and have found your baby-care rhythm, however, you should try to work some sex back in. Don’t pressure each other, but do realize that you’ll both be happier for it. You need to keep your physical connection going.
You may both feel consumed by childcare, so you have to make an effort to appreciate each other. If your partner is particularly helpful with something, thank him or her. Take the time to acknowledge what a good job they’re doing with the baby. If one of you goes back to work before the other one, be empathetic to any jealousy that may bubble up.
Try to take turns watching the little one so you both get some time away from the house. Recognize the fact that you’ll both be getting way less sleep than normal, so if one of you gets snappish, the other one should try not to take it too personally. Above all, remember that your baby will be older and less dependent before you know it.
The toughest parts of caring for an infant won’t last forever, and you will eventually be able to sleep through the night, have sex, and even go on the occasional date night again. Keep a sense of humor, be kind to each other, and look forward to how much fun you’ll have when your little one gets older. Hang in there and support each other, and you may find you’re more in love than ever before.