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When Baby Makes Three

Not many life events have the potential to create as much joy than the birth of a child. However, jumping from a twosome where you had the space and luxury of meeting your own and partner’s needs, to having an infant who is completely dependent on you, is challenging.  Maintaining a healthy relationship requires time and energy- and lets face it, these are certainly two things new parents don’t know in abundance.  In the early days and months, life may seem to be completely consumed with keeping this baby alive, safe, fed, changed and sleeping appropriately (on repeat, round the clock).

It is inevitable for new parents to feel unsure; and so easy for dads to feel left out, and new mums to feel overwhelmed.  All of us enter parenthood with the best intentions, and its hard not to think you share values and assumptions about childrearing with your partner. However, we enter into parenthood carrying our own “stuff” and experiences of being parented ourselves. And it’s often hard to predict how you’ll feel about sleep, eating and discipline until you are right bang in the middle of it. This may bring conflict. Add in sleep deprivation, raging hormones, lack of sex, the financial pressures (of having to pay for nappies, baby swim classes and necessary occasional Uber Eats delivery), its no wonder two-thirds of couples feel dissatisfied with their relationship within three years of having their child (Gottman Relationship Institute).

But (and there is always a BUT), this is not for always. It maybe hard but it also has the potential to be magical as you look upon and wonder about this little being you have created together – your forever bond.

Some things that may help: Make time for yourself as an individual, make time for each other (alone couple time); check in- it’s a time of huge personal adjustments for both parents as one learns to navigate their new roles and responsibilities. Accept that life has changed and your world has turned a little upside down. And we will all make mistakes. You are not alone in this experience. However, if things continue to feel unmanageable, you are not alone in the struggle and sometimes a little professional help is beneficial in working through the emotional challenges and personal growth that new parenthood brings.

Eugenie Pophillat

Clinical Psychologist

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