Valentine’s Day is just around the corner and for new parents with an infant, it may not feel especially romantic this year!
The first Valentine’s Day after your baby is born may feel different and less romantic than your last Valentine’s Day, pre-baby. It’s normal to feel differently now. Research shows that after baby, that total feeling of we-ness has expanded to three-ness: couple satisfaction expands to include a new and different feeling of family satisfaction.
Take into account that alot of changes happen in your emotional and personal life during the nine months of pregnancy and especially after your baby is born. Everything from your emotions to your finances will change, and you and your significant other will spend a large portion of this time figuring out how you’re going to parent your little one: such as who will work and who won’t and what your family will look like and how you’ll juggle all the new responsibilities. This time of emotional adaptation and trying new behaviors may feel even more stressful if you come from different backgrounds.
Plus, during pregnancy and postpartum, your body goes through large hormonal shifts. And hormones are chemical messengers that affect mood and sleep: Dr. Candace Pert calls them the Molecules of Emotion!
Be aware that, with all these changes, conflict is normal. Did you know that research shows that the divorce rate actually increases in the first year that people become new parents?
So, this Valentine’s Day may not feel especially romantic. But take a step back and think about your relationship and how you both may be feeling overwhelmed in your own way about being new parents. Become aware of how you are both feeling and of all the positives in your relationship and how hard you’re both working.
You can take proactive steps to prevent stress from overwhelming you. The most important thing to remember is that you view the situation realistically, make an effort to communicate with your spouse and take some steps to create some romance, even if you’ve recently expanded your life to include a beautiful new baby! Ask those around you for help when you need it; don’t feel like you need to do it all. Get a babysitter, a trusted teenager from your neighborhood or community college, or, ask the grandparents for some time, if you can.
Plan for some romantic time acknowledging each other for all of your hard work and dedication to your new family. Even if you can’t find a babysitter, a nice male can be planned, some flowers and a nice outfit will make the day feel special. The important thing is that you and your spouse acknowledge each other in a positive way.
While this first year can be tough, the next 18 years will present you with more challenges than you think you can handle- so it’s important to nurture a healthy bond with your spouse and work on mutual care and respect now. Develop a healthy (and realistic) expectation of what you can both handle on a day-to-day basis.
Make an effort to make Valentine’s Day post- baby special too! Small gestures contribute to a positive emotional foundation.
This Valentine’s, Day, a nice way to acknowledge each other is to share nurturing touch. For an entire book on self-care techniques for managing anxiety, stress and the effects on your pregnancy, take a look at the book, BirthTouch®: Shiatsu and Acupressure for the Childbearing Year, written by Kathy Morelli.