What were we thinking! promote confidence and reduce distress in parents with a first baby

Making time to be on your own together

By Jane Fisher

Making time to be on your own together

The relationship between intimate partners is fundamentally important when you have a new baby. Confidence grows when we experience affection, kindness and encouragement from each other and it diminishes if we experience criticism. However, caring for a baby is exhausting and takes up much more time and energy than had been imagined, so it is easy to neglect the relationship with your partner. It is important that this relationship is nurtured intentionally. This is often easier said than done.

Committing to at least a couple of hours each week, just the two of you together, really makes a difference to feeling connected and cared about with support and affection. A few things need to be put in place for this to happen.

Establishing baby’s routine

The greatest chance for the two of you to have of a bit of time alone is when your baby is asleep. If your baby has an established sleeping and settling routine, you can almost be sure that you can find that precious hour to spend together. With a routine in place, you will be more confident that your time will not be interrupted and you can have a whole conversation or eat a meal or watch a program together..

Choose a day and stick to it!

Before having a baby most of us rely on spontaneous opportunities to do things together, but these disappear once you have a baby. We have to plan for things we once did on the spur of the moment, but planning is usually needed to make sure that there are times for the two of you to enjoy time together. It’s worth having a date in the diary when you each agree that this is the priority and it is non-negotiable.

It doesn’t have to be fancy

It can be disappointing if the plans are too ambitious. There will be time for glamorous clothes or new restaurants in the future, it is better at this time to value the time and the person not the place and the event. Sitting together to have a proper conversation or sharing some takeaway and watching a movie can be just the thing you need.

Celebrate the milestones together

Your birthdays and special anniversaries are important days that should be acknowledged and celebrated (even if you have just had a baby!). Plan ahead for these big occasions, once the baby is big enough to manage without a late evening feed, booking a babysitter and actually going out can reconnect you with the wider world and guarantee some uninterrupted time for the two of you.

Trust, affection, sharing the work fairly and hearing about each other’s day-to-day experiences as well as plans and hopes are the secret to protecting wellbeing for parents and their new babies. 

Jane Fisher is Clinical and Health Psychologist and Professor of Women's Health. She has been a sessional consultant to Masada Private Hospital Mother Baby Unit since 1996. Jane's research focuses on understanding and addressing the factors that influence women's and men's health and wellbeing during pregnancy and the life phase of caring for young children.

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