Navigating Important Relationships with a New Baby
When a child is born, so is a mother. Getting to know yourself as a mother can be challenging, and on top of that add in the complexity of how this transition impacts your other relationships with a new baby.
Let’s examine some of the ways that your relationships may be affected when you become a mother.
The Partner Relationship
Your baby physically needs you, and will immediately demand an immense amount of your time, attention, and energy. You are giving a lot of yourself to a new baby. This change happens suddenly and new mothers often find themselves all “touched out”, which may leave their partner feeling abandoned or left out. (Sometimes this even begins in pregnancy, as the birthing person bonds with baby who is moving inside their body while the partner is left out).
Thus, communication is key in this relationship. Let your partner know what you need, even if what you need is time and space to become this new version of yourself. Listen to what they need, even if you can’t give it to them at the present time. Knowing that you are receptive to what your partner needs can give you some leeway while you navigate this transition.
You will be bonding with your baby and acutely aware of their needs, while your partner may initially struggle to provide comfort for a fussing infant.
If your partner is going back to work and you will be caring for your baby more often than your partner, remember that baby’s needs will change and you may be in tune with those changes before your partner (Example: A soothing method that worked yesterday may no longer soothe baby today, and when your partner tries, they are unable to because they aren’t aware of the new soothing method you have discovered).
Using language and tone in your communication that is kind and patient can be challenging when you are low on sleep and stressed out, but remember that you get more bees with honey.
Your intimate relationship with your partner will certainly change in the immediate postpartum time. For a full blog on this aspect of relationship dynamic changes after baby, click here!
The New Mom as a Daughter Relationship
You may find a new appreciation for your own parents. You will begin to experience a similar magnitude of responsibility and work that they put in throughout the years in raising you. I remember thinking, “if my mother has loved me as much as I love this tiny baby, I am pretty lucky”. Don’t forget to show appreciation to your parents for their parenting, and for all the help and support they continue to give you through your own parenting journey.
However, there may also be some neglect of respecting boundaries, where your parents may parent YOUR parenting style. Your parents have been parenting you for your whole life, so it is natural to them that they would parent you through this as well. Remember that YOU are your baby’s parent. Don’t let others make you question your instincts or make you feel like you are anything less than the parent that your baby needs.
Also remember, that as the decades roll on, we learn and grow as a person and as a collective culture. Some of the things that your parents did when you were a child might look very different today from decisions that you make. We all strive to make the best decision we can, given the information available to us at that time. When new information becomes available, we might make a different choice. So just because your parents did something one way, doesn’t mean you must do the same, nor does it mean they were wrong for choosing differently.
The Motherless Mother
You may feel lonely in your journey to becoming a mother if you have lost your own. Throughout your pregnancy, emotions may come up for you surrounding this. Honor those emotions and create a space for you to identify how this makes you feel. It’s a good idea to plan in advance for times when you may feel especially saddened during this transition (holidays, special occasions, or seemingly out of nowhere). Establishing a supportive relationship during pregnancy with a counselor who specializes in relationships, loss, grief, and perinatal mental health can help you navigate these emotions and hurdles as they arise.
Having a birth doula present during your birth may provide countless benefits and help you feel supported and encouraged. Furthermore, most birth doulas will visit in the first few days after your baby arrives to help you with questions and concerns that you may not have anticipated. Postpartum doula support in the first few weeks can also be so helpful. Postpartum doulas will help answer questions about changes in your body, how to care for baby, help make meals, clean up around the house, and create a space for you to take care of yourself.
Some things that you can do yourself to prepare in advance to lighten the burden of going through the motherhood transition without your own mother by your side can include making meals to store in your freezer, hiring a house cleaner, journaling, and asking your friends and other family members to step up and provide support ahead of time. Some people find it helpful to write a letter to their mother, expressing all of their emotions. This might include feelings of sadness, loss, resentment, and anger, among others. Be honest, it’s okay to feel these things, and no one is judging you for having honest feelings, not even your mother. As you become a mother yourself, you will find that your love for your child is endless, as is your mother’s love for you.
This time of life encompasses many changes, which includes affecting the most important and crucial relationships. If you feel like you need support navigating your journey, please do not hesitate to reach out to a BIRTHFIT Leader.
Danielle Finden, D.C.birthfitmsp
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