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Feet of parents and newbornBy: Melanie Hamaty, Clinical Psychologist

While the birth of a baby brings great joy into a couple’s life, it is also taxing on any relationship. The first few weeks can be overwhelming, especially for new parents. The world revolves around coping with little sleep, twenty-four hour care, hormonal changes, breastfeeding issues and financial concerns. To add to the strain, couples may suffer a temporary loss of sexual relations due to procedures like a c-section or episiotomy, or lowered sex drive due to hormonal changes.The physical symptoms may pass within few weeks but residual other stresses may delay the return of normal sexual relations.

As with any potentially conflicted situation, the most important tool for any couple is communication.Those who believe their relationship will continue as normal after the birth of the baby will find it much harder to cope once the baby has arrived. Before the baby is born it’s a good idea to discuss each partner’s expectations and define the role that each will play when caring for their new charge. Think ahead, plan ahead and be ready for change.

Although the birth of a baby can be overwhelming, there is also an intense intimacy shared between two parents when they look at the baby they share. It is important to nurture the relationship during the first few weeks and to enjoy all the new experiences together. Respect each other and the different emotions you and your partner will be going through during this time. Take time to listen to what your partner needs and keep humour alive in the relationship.

Every couple is unique and every woman experiences birth differently and recovers at a different rate. However, there is no reason you should not enjoy intimate moments as a couple, but resume your sex life slowly. Sexual penetration can be very painful after giving birth. Always keep a lubricant handy as there can be a decrease in vaginal lubrication after birth. Although this is a challenging time if you have realistic expectations it can be a time of renewed intimacy and pleasure.

Men and woman both need to recognise the importance of creating time where they can be intimate. Your husband may feel rejected if you keep turning away from him in bed. Your wife may feel unsupported if you don’t offer to help her with the baby and this may lead to resentment and aggravate the situation in the bedroom. Discuss your needs and fears regarding intimacy so that you both feel your needs are being heard.

It’s important to acknowledge the enormity of the time you going through.Share the responsibilities when you are both home. When you feel supported by your partner you are automatically more open to intimate moments. As with anything, taking time for oneself is an important part of a healthy marriage. If you can nurture yourself, you can come back to the relationship in spirit.

When your baby arrives, turning your twosome a threesome is bound to alter your relationship. The gift of a baby can add an intense intimacy within a relationship. However difficulties may surface when a couple only functions as a threesome and ignores the vital importance of the twosome.

So even though you need to strive to be the best parents to your child, you are also a couple and you need to nurture your relationship with your partner. Your baby’s needs come first but you can still spend time together after you put baby to sleep to discuss the days happenings, world news or reminiscing about your first date. Make time to be together. This will not take any love away from your child but will provide a healthy and secure relationship, thus providing your child a happy and stable home.

Should you be struggling to cope with the birth of your baby, contact us PsychMatters Family Therapy Centre on 011-450 3576 to get some guidance.

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