How To Strengthen Your Relationship and Minimise Your Risk of PND
Having a child changes you and changes your relationship with your partner. Research shows that 9 out of 10 couples who have recently had a baby experience more conflict. It makes sense that most parents struggle to stay connected when they have a baby – you are running on only a few hours sleep, have a million things to do to take care of your baby and your household, and date nights have gone out the window!
But research shows that couples who are happy with their relationship are less likely to experience postnatal depression. Supporting one another is a great antidote to the stress and challenge of being new parents.
Here are some ideas for things you can do to strengthen your relationship with your partner and minimise your risk of PND:
Praise one another’s parenting efforts
When you have a baby you are learning brand new skills. Be gentle with one another – give yourselves time to adjust to your new roles. Let your partner know that you’re there for them and try to be patient and understanding. Praise your partner‘s parenting efforts and encourage them if they are unsure about how to do something. You are both learning.
Explore different types of intimacy
After childbirth, your sexual relationship is likely to change and may not return to normal for a year or more. Your sex life may be affected by a number of things such as the physical recovery from childbirth, lifestyle changes, and changes in body image. If you or your partner find that you are less interested in sex, try exploring different ways to be intimate, such as cuddling or hand holding. Talk to each other about how you are feeling about sex and what helps you feel connected to one another.
Let your partner know that you love them
Let your partner know that you love and appreciate them. You can do small things to show your love and appreciation, such as buying flowers, making a cup of tea, or giving a massage. Make time for one another, even if its just a few minutes together while your baby is sleeping.
Agree on how parenting responsibilities and household tasks are divvied up
Your daily routines change when you have a baby and sharing the workload becomes extra important. Try to share the childcare and household tasks in a way that you are both happy with. Be willing to re-negotiate how chores are divvied up as needed.
Express needs respectfully and avoid being critical
Conflict is a natural part of relationships and cannot be avoided. But it’s important to express your needs respectfully without using words or phrases that imply that your partner is always wrong or not trying, name-calling, or criticising your partner.
Pam Pilkington is an Australian psychologist and researcher specialising in perinatal mental health. She recently launched Partners to Parents (www.partnerstoparents.org), a website to help couples navigate new parenthood together. The website is full of useful advice on how partners can stay connected, parent together as a team, and reduce the chance that they will experience depression or anxiety.
Edited By Mummyitsok