13 Tips to Survive After a Baby is Born
A new baby brings with it a number of changes for both parents, fundamentally changing both lives and sleep patterns. Here are 13 tips on how to prepare and deal with the stresses of having a new family member for married couples or couples living in cohabitation.
Share The Feeds. Find a way to share the load of night time feeds which works for you as a couple. For instance, if Dad is getting up for work during the week, he can do feeds on Friday and Saturday night and let Mum sleep.
Sleep Routine. Seek help with establishing your child into a sleeping routine. Your health visitor or Children’s Centre will be able to advise you.
Sleep Deprivation. Sleep deprivation tends to make people a bit snappy, so don’t take sharp comments to heart – remember that you’re both as exhausted as each other.
Grown Up World. Remember if your partner has given up work to take care of the baby, they may be feeling isolated from the world – make time for them to remain connected to their old identity and have a girls’ or boys’ night – or the time for an interest or hobby.
Distribute Chores. It’s not about sharing out the housework 50/50 – it’s about making it fair so that each person does what they can manage. When chores are redistributed, men tend to lose leisure time, while women gain it!
Discuss Domestic Responsibilities. As part of your baby preparations, hold a light-hearted ‘Domestic AGM’ where you divide up the chores and keep a record of who does what. It’s also a good idea to review this regularly to make sure it’s still fair.
Your Relationship With Your Partner
Patience. Remember that the experience of having a baby is different for men and women – give yourselves time to get close again.
Show Affection. Intimacy doesn’t always have to be about intercourse – it can be as simple as making time for a kiss and a cuddle.
Original Identities. Make time for each other as romantic partners rather than just as ‘Mum and Dad’ – try to keep something of your original identities.
Martyr Syndrome. Stop seeing your sacrifices as a competition – realise that you’re both giving up something and enjoy your new roles.
Share Responsibilities. From the start of maternity leave, set a good regime of who does what – that way it won’t come as a shock to the system when the woman goes back to work.
Prepare for Challenges Early On. Don’t wait until you’re at a crisis point before you ask for help – work out where you and your partner are likely to have trouble and work out how to deal with it before the situation arises.
Ask for Help. Don’t be afraid to ask for help – there are probably a lot of other parents going through exactly the same as you who will be delighted to share experiences. Sometimes just knowing you’re not alone can help and others can often see humour in a situation which will help you keep it in perspective – hard to do on your own and when you’re tired!
If you’re interested in more guidance, these tips and many more can be found in OnePlusOne’s report Sleep and Sacrifice with research lead by Dr Catherine Houlston.