So, you’ve had your baby, you’ve bought to an end that long ‘waiting’ period, that long time of ‘what ifs’, ‘how will it be’ and ‘can I do it’. Now you’ve got another little human being in your life, who is entirely dependent on you. You have changed, physically, emotionally, even mentally. People say you can never be prepared for the change a new baby brings, and it is true. It is an incredible mix of feelings of wonder, amazement, triumph, pride, terror and doubt – and that is just your feelings! Let’s imagine how it is for your partner. It may be that you were both very involved and prepared for the birth and Dad was very much a ‘part’ of the birth of your little one. It may be that you both went quite the other way and ignored the whole concept of the actual birth and you laboured away and he was standing by feeling completely helpless. However your birth went, if your partner was present at the birth they will feel overwhelmed and very possibly emotional about the process you have both been through. I have been at many births and every time it seems like a miracle to me, but I have not seen my loved one give birth! It is very helpful for you and your partner to have time together, to wonder at your child, and to honestly share your feelings about the birth of the baby. You, the Mum generate a great sea of hormones to help you through the first few days, (do look into placenta encapsulation to get the full benefit of this) and of course, you and the baby are the stars of the show. Put yourself in the shoes of your partner for a moment. He or she will also be sharing all the amazing emotions that you have but without the hormonal support, and without the feeling of being centre stage. They may have other emotions, they be wondering how their life will change as a result of this new arrival. It may dawn on them that there may now be a queue for your love and attention, they may be anxious that they, also, have a full role as a parent. Your partner may also want to be able to be everything to you, support, entertainer, lover, hands on parent … however things work in your own relationship – and that is asking a lot of them, maybe attributes and feelings that are unfamiliar to them and need to be learned.
It is easy in the early weeks to forget what you each mean and have meant to each other, the very reason you got together – it can feel like life is all about the baby and its needs. Do try and remember that you are still the same young women that you were before you ever thought about pregnancy, and you and your needs matter and must be given the time and space they need. So too, with your partner; they will need to be listened to, be encouraged and supported as they learn this new way of being. They too are still the same person whom you were originally drawn to, and whose company you sought out. It may be at this time, that you have family or friends who can offer you support – either to have couple time again, or sit with either or both of you and listen, openly and without the need to judge, give advice or compare notes – just to be there for you. Do try and identify such a person whilst you are pregnant, and if you aren’t able to find such a person, there are always professions, such as myself.
Once life has settled into a routine and you feel that you have started on your family life, it is common for Mum to feel that she has become ‘all about the baby’, and that she is the one who knows all about what works for the child. This can be a mixed blessing! It can feel like you have no time – even to shower – your baby needs you all the time… Accept any offers of help at this time, and if there are no offers of help, understand that in spite of your feelings, your baby is robust – a short while whilst you bathe, or make a phone call or take a few minutes of ‘me’ time, will do your child no harm. It can be too, that your partner in returning to work will feel like he or she is all about the money, and feels a little like a part time parent. Encourage your partner to have as much ‘hands on’ experience as possible – if they do things differently from you, your child will adapt to these differences and will certainly benefit from having a the full quota of two committed parents to nurture it.