Karabo Mokoena
Content producer
2 minute read
20 Jul 2021
11:25 am

All relationships are bound to change after the birth of a child

Karabo Mokoena

As a couple, bringing a child into the world is a blessing, but it can also change the dynamics of the relationship.

Relationships look different after the birth of a child. Picture: iStock

The addition of a third or fourth person in any relationship may be challenging. When that addition is a baby that solely relies on mom and dad for their mere survival, this challenge can be overwhelming.

After childbirth, couples step into a new world and it is unfamiliar territory.

Dr Stephen and Erin Mitchell are clinically trained couple therapists, and they note eight things that a relationship may feel like after the birth of a child:

  • Unsteady
  • Unfamiliar
  • Exhausted
  • Connected
  • Close
  • Unprepared
  • Overwhelmed
  • Stressed

They also add that these feelings can all be felt in a single day.

“After you have a baby, you step into a new role, your partner steps into a new role, and your general life rhythm shifts or radically changes in some cases,” Stephen says.

When the newness is not communicated with the other partner, it is easy to feel like strangers in a relationship. Couples need to feel comfortable and safe to communicate these differences with each other.

Resentment

When couples do not discuss which responsibilities they will share, the mom becomes the primary caregiver and sometimes the dad does not know what to do. In this case, an exhausted and overwhelmed mother becomes frustrated with doing all the work alone.

How this frustration manifests can be detrimental to relationships. Some couples don’t even make it.

According to Stephen, mutual resentment happens when one partner does not acknowledge their needs in the hopes that the other partner will meet them.

“How can our partners know what they don’t know?” Stephen asks.

Couples easily slip into survival mode for the sake of getting through all the work with as little sleep as possible. During this mode, it is hard to pay attention to your own, or each others’ needs.

When this mode prolongs, however, the resentment heightens, and when work is not put in by both partners, relationships may be broken.

ALSO SEE: Motherhood resentment is a thing – here’s what you should know

Disrupted communication

At times, parenting can get in the way of partners communicating. When you are busy feeding, changing diapers or making sure there are few accidents as possible, talking becomes a luxury for many.

Not talking becomes a norm, and it is easy to pay more attention to a child than to each other. This is especially the case for moms who are the primary caregivers.

It is normal for the person you love more than anything to be the same one that annoys you more than everyone else.

The key to any healthy relationship is being able to find a way back to each other and reconnect as often as possible.

Change is inevitable after childbirth, and couples are not the same people and that is okay. It’s important to find each other, and where you are in your new journey with each other.

Should it be hard to find each other there, it is advisable to seek out help from a qualified therapist.