Living - Life with a newborn
Becoming a parent entails major changes. It involves a total change of identity and you are suddenly responsible for a new person who is completely dependent on you. You don’t get to sleep properly and you probably find there are many demands and expectations being made, that life as parents to a newborn should be a certain way. All parents react in different ways to this. Sharing your feelings with someone close to you can be helpful.
Your baby needs to connect with someone who provides comfort and security. This is important to the baby’s well-being and development. By talking to your baby, being physically close and letting your baby smell your natural scent, you’re forming the foundation for a strong bond. It is therefore best not to use perfume or scented deodorant.
After giving birth, your hormones are all over the place. A partner may also experience strong mood swings and emotions. A lot of new parents feel sad for a few days after the birth of their baby, which can be distressing because they know they “should” be feeling happy. This is what we call the baby blues which typically goes away after a couple of weeks. If it doesn’t go away, it could be postnatal depression. It’s important to seek help in that case.
Contact the child health clinic or your midwife if you need support and advice.
Having children is perhaps the greatest strain a relationship can experience. It is difficult to be at your best when you’re struggling with lack of sleep, worry, demands and stress. What’s more, since you’re fully focused on your child, it’s not easy to maintain that close contact with your partner. Being reminded of this from time to time can help you to deal with day-to-day challenges. It also helps to talk and try to find time for one another, even if only a few brief moments now and then.
When it comes to time, there is a huge difference to life with and without children. New parents will find it difficult to find time to do everything they want. If you are a couple, you’ll also discover you have less time for your adult relationship. You can take it in turns to allow each other some me-time. But planning we-time often requires active decision-making. The point of this is not to lose contact with one another. The whole family benefits if the parents are happy together.
As a couple you can try the “Magic Five Hours” approach. It involves spending five hours a week getting into new habits that will strengthen your relationship. There are five parts to this. The first is…
Before you leave for work in the morning
Find out at least one thing that your partner is going to do that day. Anything from an important meeting to a dental appointment or going for a walk with the pram.Time spent: 2 minutes per workday x 5 days a week Total: 10 minutes
After returning home in the evening
Take turns to tell one another what has been good or bad about the day. This is when you discuss any problems outside of your relationship, as well as things that happened during the day. While one of you is talking, the other listens and gives support.Time spent: 20 minutes per workday x 5 days a week Total: 1 hour and 40 minutes
Use everyday moments as a chance to show how much you appreciate your partner.Time spent: 5 minutes per day x 7 days a week Total: 35 minutes
Affection and intimacy
Touch, cuddle, hug, kiss and caress one another. Try to forget those small irritating things that happened during the day and say good-night with love and affection.Time spent: 5 minutes per day x 7 days a week Total: 35 minutes
Dates with your partner
Give yourselves alone-time together when you can pick up “loose ends” and show interest in one another. Think of some questions that you can ask your partner, like: How did it go with…? How are you feeling about…? What do you think we should do in…?Time spent: 2 hours once a week Total: 2 hours
Total in all: 5 hours
It can take time before feelings of physical intimacy and sexual interest return after childbirth. A lot of couples think they are the only ones experiencing this. But it’s perfectly normal for sexual desire to come and go in different periods. At the same time, it is good not to lose the romantic relationship which includes physical intimacy and sexual interest. It’s very important to be open with one another and talk about your expectations and needs. Try to do this without either of you feeling hurt, rejected or under pressure.
- Think about the tone of conversation. Most conversations end on the same tone on which they began.
- Don’t guess what the other person is thinking or feeling. Ask instead!
- Describe your own thoughts and feelings: I think, I believe, I feel, I want.
- Avoid accusations and generalisations, like: You are always, you never want, you always do.
- Make an effort to understand what the other person means. Ask follow-up questions, like: So is this what you mean?
- Accept your differences and be kind to one another.
Visits from friends and family can be a pleasure or a chore. Remember that you can say no to visitors if you are not ready. Do things in your own time and focus on feeling as strong and well as you can. Everyone should understand and respect that.
The practice of parents sharing a bed with their baby is a hot topic. The Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare advises that it is safest for babies under the age of three months to sleep on their back in a cot on their own. This is to reduce the risk of sudden infant death syndrome, also known as cot death. Not all babies like sleeping alone. Place your baby in a babynest, at your head level, if your baby is going to be sleeping in your bed. This reduces the risk of accidently covering your baby’s face or head with bedding. It is also important to ensure your baby isn’t too warm. It is usually enough with baby pajamas and a thin blanket.
The sound of a crying baby awakens strong feelings. As well as the feeling of helplessness that arises, it can drive the most patient parent crazy. When you feel that nothing is working and you can’t take it anymore, lay the baby down and give yourself a break. You can ask your partner, if there, to take over for a while. Whatever happens, you must never shake your baby. If you need support and advice, you can always contact your child health clinic.
It can be extremely frustrating if your baby wants to be carried all the time. But it is very common and a healthy survival instinct on the part of the baby. Having as much skin-to-skin contact with your baby is one of the best things you can do. Many parents find a baby sling or baby carrier to be an invaluable aid.
The baby product industry is a huge business. It is quite easy to make parents feel guilty with the words: You do want what is good for your baby, don’t you? While some items can be invaluable, of course, most are unnecessary. Your baby needs closeness, security, love, food and sleep. That’s it.
Common sense gets you far. There is so much to read about babies and what life is like as parents to young children. Many people have strong opinions on how newborns should be handled. You know best what your baby needs.