What was once a home for just you and your partner, is now a space being shared by a small human being.
For any new parent, the first few months can be stressful: your sleep schedule is off, you're juggling multiple chores and many women suffer from postpartum depression.
And for couples who feel like they don't have time for each other, the best thing you can do is delegate the tasks of the household and ask for help, says dating coach Chantal Heide.
"We have a backwards cultural ideology at this time, making us think we need to do everything on our own and it’s unnatural. The saying, 'It takes a village to raise a child' is so true... allow people to help alleviate your workload."
This means asking friends or family to babysit, while giving you and your partner much-needed quality time.
Below, Heide shares nine things every new parent can do to make more room for intimacy in their life and of course, enjoy the new baby.
Practice the "3 Pillars of Intimacy": Heide says these are the three pillars of every strong relationship:
- Responsiveness: How does your partner respond when you turn to them and say, “Baby?” It should be easy to get their attention when you ask for it.
- Understanding: Are you taking time to understand each other’s likes, fears, personalities and sensitivities?
- Respect: Are you making a conscious effort to respect each other’s sensitivities, boundaries, and limitations?
Flush the toilet: "Life is filled with poops we take on each other when we’re reactive, and all those little hurts accumulate until you’ve got a toilet filled with poop," Heide says.
"You’ve got to flush the toilet before it plugs up, runs over, and makes a huge mess."
Flushing the toilet means taking time to sit down and put all those things that are hurting your relationship on the table. This gives your partner an opportunity to understand your feelings, and allows room for apologies.
"Writing healing letters and reading them to each other is a great way to do this."
Learn how to say “I’m sorry”: Any apology with the word “but” is a non-apology.
"Learn how to walk away when emotions escalate, think about your part in the fight or disagreement, and take responsibility," she says.
Release the outcome, she says, and a good partner will learn from your example and begin to take responsibility for their own behaviour as well.
"When partners learn to quickly acknowledge their humanness (because we will make mistakes) then forgiveness flows and fights are quickly resolved."
Appreciate each other: Whether it is through gifts, words of affirmation, quality time or physical affection, do something your partner would actually appreciate.
"This keeps your partner's love bank filled."
Speak your appreciations: You can’t say "Thank you" too many times.
"'Thank you, I appreciate you, you’re such a good man/woman, good husband/wife, good father/mother.' Build each other up through recognizing what your partner is doing right and be sure to let them know you see how hard they try," Heide says.
Touch: "Twenty-second hugs release oxytocin, and oxytocin is the chemical our bodies create that make us feel warm and fuzzy and also, slightly forgetful."
Hold your partner at least once a day to help melt away stress.
Bridge the distance: Often one partner is away at work while another is home with the baby, so bridge the distance by sending pictures, texts or calls when you’re not physically together.
"This helps create a warmer welcome when they do come home because feelings of closeness linger throughout the day."
Meditate: "Take 10 minutes a day to shrink your amygdala, which is your fight or flight centre in your brain, through meditation."
This will reduce your capacity for stress and make you less reactive, she says. Which means when your partner comes home, you’ll be happier and more relaxed.
Be predictable: Meditation helps with this, because it evens out your emotional valley, Heide says.
"Let your partner be able to predict they’ll come home to a calm, happy partner. But on those days where this isn’t achievable, always take responsibility for your behaviour and apologize."