Guest blog by Michelle Janssen
The arrival of a newborn is a bundle of painful and beautiful contradictions. Love like you’ve never known amidst sleepless, anxious nights. Staring into their gorgeous eyes as you awkwardly navigate endless nappy changes, swaddling and trying to get into some sort of new routine – the sudden and unrelenting tsunami of responsibility is immense, and can be overwhelming, especially when one parent feels like they’re carrying the load alone.
Prior to having your baby, how much did you and your partner discuss your roles, expectations, and responsibilities? Did you make assumptions about who would do what? Or perhaps you’re grappling with the impact of a baby in ways you never could have prepared for.
One common issue that many new parents face is the feeling of being unequally burdened when it comes to taking care of their newborn. Depending on family support, back to work responsibilities and maternity leave, care of a child can quickly become a source of communication breakdowns in your relationship. This new chapter in your lives may feel overwhelming and reasons behind the imbalance could be different for every couple.
To start to make parenting more of a team sport, we need to find ways to communicate with one another empathically and honestly. This can be easier said than done.
Seeking outside support for your transition to parenthood as you bring your baby home may be helpful. In the same way as we can have a check in with a Midwife, plan a Baby Shower, or get a Snoo – there are ways we can prepare your communication for a baby.
Drs John and Julie Gottman, pioneers in relationship research, say the greatest gift you can give your child is a healthy relationship between the two of you. In the late 90s, they developed the Bringing Baby Home workshop to assist couples in the transition to parenthood. It is a one of a kind program that focuses primarily on the couple’s relationship and the flow on effect it can have to a safe, connected and healthy family. In it, you talk about these communication challenges, find ways to connect and ultimately ensure that load is evenly shared.
Finding a balance won’t happen overnight. Perhaps it will be an ongoing journey of negotiation, expression of feelings and adjusting expectations. Each family is unique and while there is no one size fits all approach, being able to clearly express your feelings and needs, and to feel truly heard, valued, and seen, is something we could all benefit from.
Bringing Baby Home workshops coming soon.
For couples counselling, click here.