10 Expectations For Expecting Couples

Whether a couple has been together for many years or just starting out together, welcoming a new baby to your relationship means big changes. This is usually the point in your lives when you refer to yourselves as a “family” rather than just a “couple.” Knowing you will be adjusting to changes is one thing, but knowing what those changes are helps prepare you even more. You will be able to navigate through the parenthood journey together a little more smoothly.

So What Kinds of Changes Can You Expect Once Baby Arrives? 

1. Differences in Parenting Styles

You may agree on everything now, but when it comes to parenting, there will likely be some differences in opinion. What may surprise you is how protective you feel about your kids. If your spouse is disciplining in a way you don’t approve, or not paying enough attention to the child, this can bring up very strong emotions. Talk about your parenting philosophy now. Discuss issues such as whether you agree on spanking, organized sports, one parent staying home to raise the kids, and so forth.  Respect the other parent’s opinion. Remember, you are in this together and differences are normal. It’s how you work through these differences that will define parents who are a team versus parents who operate separately.

2. Less Time Together

Children take a lot of time, attention, and energy so this is not a surprise. If you were used to quality time as a couple, you will now have to enjoy that time with a little one at your feet. Enjoy every moment together, even if the kids are around. Your baby will be a very special connection that only the two of you can share together. Also, schedule time for one another. Making these arrangements (babysitter, packing items, and money) can feel overwhelming at first, but spending that quality time with your spouse is a must.

3. Changes in Roles

Some couples redefine their roles after having kids. The man or the woman may shift their priorities from career-focused to family-focused and take on more of a domestic role in the home. Before kids, I was very career driven, and was highly surprised to find that after kids, I wanted more of a role in caring for my kids, my husband, and my home. Every couple is different and it can take some time to find the right fit for your family.

4. Early to Bed and Early to Rise

I have yet to meet a couple with kids who sleep late any more. Kids wake up early, and they don’t care if it’s Saturday morning or whether you were up late the night before. Staying up late all of a sudden doesn’t have the same appeal because you will always suffer for it the next day 🙂

5. Weekends at Home

Going out on the weekend can be a task with kids. You have to find childcare, and then make sure they have everything they need before you go. Unless you have family or other free childcare, you are also spending an extra sum of money for your night out. Like I mentioned above though, alone time will be important, so try to plan for once a month or as often as you can. It will be worth it!

6. New Social Circles

If you were hanging out with kid-free friends before, chances are you are going to see them less and meet other couples with kids. Why? First of all, other couples with kids understand when your toddler throws a tantrum over dinner and when you call it a night at 8:30 instead of 12:30. Secondly, kids can entertain one another. If your kid has a friend to play with, in a kid-friendly home, you can sit back and relax (your new definition of relaxing).

7. Financial Changes

This goes without an explanation. Having kids is an expense. It will be important to get ready for this before you baby arrives.

8. So Much Laughter!

I have never laughed so much in my life as I have since having my kids. When I think back to life pre-kids, I have plenty of good memories, but I never felt the kind of joy I feel with my kids. As a couple, you will be able to share these moments together. No one else will find the story or expression as comical as you do, so this will be a bond that only you will share as parents.

9. You Learn A LOT of Patience

I added this one in at the last minute. I realized how patient I have become when my toddler was throwing a classic terrible-two tantrum during dinner this week. It didn’t rattle me like it used to and I was actually able to tune it out and continue my conversation with my husband. Wow, this is an accomplishment!

10. You Kinda Loose Your Mind

Something happens between pregnancy and kids where you loose the sharp mind you used to have. There is so much on your mind that you can only keep track of so much. A friend of mine once told me “with kids your mind is never free.” So very true.

What Makes It Worth While?

This is a question that can only be answered once you have your kids. It’s a journey like no other, and one that fills your heart with joy!

References:

The Bump

Ask A Mum

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Being Prepared for Postpartum Emotions (of Mom AND Dad)

The birth of a baby is no small event and can trigger significant and sometimes long-lasting mood changes, in both the mother and father. I think everyone has heard of postpartum depression at one time or another. Millions of new mommies experience deep feelings of sadness or persistent anxiety after the birth of their baby, which medical explanations attribute to the rapid decline in hormone levels after the baby is born. Fathers can also experience significant mood changes, including depression and anxiety. After all, his life has undergone drastic changes as well.

With a little one soon to arrive and a toddler at my feet, I easily recall those weeks and months after my first child was born. I remember the powerful wave of emotions that flooded my body and mind.  In fact, even with all I knew about the postpartum mood changes, I was shocked at how powerful they could be that first week. The birth of a child, and especially the first, is supposed to be joyous. So how is it that I could feel even the slightest bit of sadness?

There are many factors that can lead to the postpartum blues:

* Hormones: This goes for mom and dad! Yes, even dad experiences changes in testosterone levels after a baby is born. Here is a link that may interest you.

* Fatigue: In case you didn’t know yet, new babies are exhausting! They feed every 2-3 hours and may even wake up between that time for a multitude of other needs.

* New Responsibility: Holding your new baby brings up floods of joy, as well as an “Oh my goodness, this is a big responsibility” kind of feeling.

* Financial Strains: Babies are expensive… and so are kids and teens and college students. The financial burdens of a new child are significant and long-term. This places a lot of stress on new parents.

* Social Changes: The days of care-free living are over and new parents often have to find new social circles to join. In addition, at least one of the parents may be making changes in their job status or putting off career aspirations.

* New Identity: Having a baby also means being called “mom” or “dad” and owning this new identity, and all that comes with it, can take some time to adjust.

* Relationship Changes: A couple will need to make some adjustments to their relationship. With so much time and energy going to a baby, it will be important that they find creative ways to maintain a healthy relationship and find time to spend together.

With all these factor in place, it’s natural for new parents to experience changes in their emotions, from the good to the bad. No person is the same, so they can even come at varying times and in varying forms and severity.

So how do you deal with these emotional changes and when do you seek help?

* First of all, learn the symptoms of depression before baby arrives- sadness, tear fullness, hopelessness, lack of joy, fatigue, lack of motivation, changes in eating habits, and sometimes emotional numbness. Knowing these symptoms can help you to identify depression in yourself and in others if they should come. The Mayo Clinic website has more detailed information on these symptoms.

* Attempt to identify some of the greatest area of need for you at the moment. Sleep? Food? Time out of the house?

* Seek support from loved ones, such as your significant other, relatives, and friends. Be sure to let them know you really need help and if you know how they can help, communicate that clearly. Don’t expect people to guess what you need.

* Talk to your doctor a) if the depression and anxiety has been going on for more than 6 weeks, b) if you feel the emotions are too much to handle, c) your symptoms continue to get more severe, or d) anytime you are unsure what to do or what you are experiencing.

Please keep in mind, changes in emotions are normal for everyone. Having a baby is a wonderful, joyous occasion, but also a huge change! There is no shame in what you are experiencing and I can guarantee you that another mother or father out that has experienced something similar. Seek the advice of your doctor anytime you have concern.

Related links:

Mayo Clinic

Baby Center

Postpartum Men

Men’s Health article

Article: Men’s Testosterone Levels After Baby is Born

Childhood 101: 7 Reasons Not to Leave the Hospital with Baby Blues

Books:

The Postpartum Survival Guide

Postpartum Depression for Dummies

Postpartum Depression and Child Development

The Postpartum Husband: Practical Solutions for Living with Postpartum Depression

Goodtherapy.org: Number 1 Complication at Birth

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