Family and Pets

Getting ready for your new baby includes helping other family members adjust. A new baby brings new sounds, new schedules, and new ways of coping for everyone. Most families soon find ways to adjust to the changes that take place. But it’s helpful to prepare some family members and family pets for what’s ahead.

Partner Relationships

Parents bonding with their baby boy at home

To look after your baby, you and your partner will become more of a team than ever to keep the child safe, healthy and happy.

A nurturing family is essential for a healthy baby. That’s why we emphasize the partnership between families and health care professionals to ensure the best possible care during your labor, delivery and recovery.

More Information on Family Centered Care

When Baby Makes Three

Keep your partner relationship on track

After the birth of a baby, it’s common for couples to experience stress. There’s more to do around the house and seemingly less time to do it. Fatigue can make tempers short, and hormone fluctuations can cause the mother to feel sad, confused, anxious or even depressed.

Communication during this period of transition is vital. Your family dynamic has changed, and everyone in the household needs time to adjust.

I’ve become the baby’s primary caretaker, what can we do?

While you’re learning to be new parents and your baby is learning to trust you, it’s important to share the caregiving. This might seem even more challenging if you are breastfeeding. But if you make a list of all the chores associated with caring for a newborn, you’ll find that there are plenty of tasks that can be shared, such as diaper-changing, bath duty, soothing the baby, doing laundry or getting the baby ready for a feeding.

Both parents are often tired in the beginning. Take turns sleeping, so one person isn’t always responsible for getting up with the baby in the middle of the night. Be flexible. If the baby was fussy during the day, the partner on day duty might need the night off, even if the schedule dictated otherwise. Negotiate if needed, and don’t let traditional roles cloud your decisions.

Paternity and maternity leave give both parents time to bond with the baby. If paternity leave is not possible, perhaps the father can take vacation days.

My partner complains that our once tidy house is a mess. How can I get help?

Make a list of household chores. Then prioritize them and divide them up. Do this before the baby is born if you can. Let friends and family pitch in. A helping hand around the house can be crucial when a new baby arrives and parents face competing priorities.

How can we spend more time together?

A date night is an obvious way to reconnect. But you don’t need to be on a date to have quality time. If a friend brought you dinner after the baby was born, share it in the same room. It doesn’t matter if you are in the bedroom next to the bassinet. The goal is to be in the same space, sharing an activity, having a conversation and staying connected.

While the baby sleeps, talk about your day or watch the same movie. You can also share time together while the baby is feeding.

When can we resume sex?

Your health care provider will discuss timing with you. Avoid sex while you’re still bleeding to prevent infection. You’ll also need time to heal.

If you want to have another baby soon, note that health care providers typically recommended waiting at least 19 months between pregnancies to protect your health and that of the next baby. If you do not want to become pregnant, you’ll need birth control — even if you are breastfeeding and don’t have a period.

For a variety of reasons, some new mothers may feel self-conscious. Remember that it takes time to lose the weight you gained while you were pregnant. Now is the time for partners to offer genuine praise for each other’s contributions, accomplishments and unique traits.

When should we seek counseling?

More than half of new mothers experience baby blues or anxiety. If it lasts for more than two weeks, talk to your doctor. Postpartum depression (PPD) can occur from the days immediately after giving birth for up to a year. It can even happen before the baby is born.

Signs include:

  • Feeling down nearly every day.
  • Losing interest in things you once enjoyed.
  • Sleeping too much or too little.
  • Ignoring your appearance.
  • Feeling restless or angry.

See a counselor if you always worry, experience scary thoughts or repeatedly relive the stress and pain of the birth. Medication and talk therapy can help.

Christiana Care Health System is partnering with Smart Patients to create an online peer support resource for pregnant women and new mothers coping with depression or anxiety. You can ask questions and share stories with other women who know what you’re experiencing.

A new baby can exacerbate an abusive relationship. The National Domestic Violence Hotline has helpful advice for staying safe during the period after the baby’s birth.

Christiana Care Health System’s Center for Women’s Emotional Wellness has licensed, highly skilled and caring behavioral health specialists. Call 302-733-6662 for more information.

If you feel that you are a threat to yourself, your baby or others, call 911 or go to the emergency room at Wilmington Hospital or Christiana Hospital.

For more information:

Delaware 211 has free access to local community programs, services and information.

Medical Reviewer:
Mona Liza Hamlin, MSN, RN, IBCLC
Nurse Manager, Postpartum Units and Perinatal Resources
Christiana Care Health System
Date Last Reviewed: September 8, 2018