Written by Meaghan Maess, Buffalo State College student and communications intern at Catholic Health
Adding a child to your household has a significant effect on your marriage. By knowing what to expect, you can ease your transition into parenthood.
Here are some common challenges that parents face in adding a new baby to their household, along with their possible solutions.
Sleepless NightsYou and your spouse will be sleeping a lot less with a newborn in the house. Infants usually sleep 3 to 4 hours at a time and need to be fed every 2 to 4 hours.
Make a Sleep PlanDecide in advance how you and your spouse will care for the baby at nighttime. Will you take turns waking up for feedings or to comfort the baby when he or she cries? You may also want to work out a nap schedule, so neither of you feels guilty for catching up on sleep when you can.
More Laundry and DishesYou will probably change your baby 2 or 3 times a day. Expect to do about 6 loads of laundry each week. You will also have to wash bottles each time you use them. These chores will have to be done quickly, so you have enough supplies when you need them.
Schedule HouseworkYou might want to make a "chore list" for you and your spouse, so neither one of you feel as if you are doing more of the work. Also, remember to thank each other for helping out and doing their share of the work.
Differences in Parenting StylesEven if you and your spouse have the same parenting philosophy, you may disagree when it comes to specific decisions about discipline, feeding and sleeping patterns. For example, how do you respond when your baby starts crying?
Discuss ParentingTalk about parenting now. Make sure that you agree about how you will raise your baby. If necessary, work out compromises and let each other deal with the consequences of their own methods. Read parenting books so you know basic guidelines to follow and discuss these with your spouse.
More Time TogetherYou and your spouse will be spending a lot more time together, instead of pursuing separate activities. With a newborn in your household, you’ll have less (if any) time to read a book or go to the gym.
Spend time apartSet up an agreement that lets you and your spouse spend some time away from each other and the baby. Make sure that you are on the same page so that neither of you feel resentful if the other goes out with friends or spends time alone.
No Alone TimeAlthough you and your spouse will be together more often, you'll rarely be by yourselves. Most of your time will be spent caring for your baby.
Have date nightsConsider lining up babysitters or family members now so that you and your spouse can have time together without the baby. On your date, you might want to set aside the first ten minutes to discuss your baby and use the rest of your time together to talk about unrelated things.
Strained FinancesYou probably won't feel financially secure with a baby. Parents often feel overwhelmed about money. If you or your spouse is staying home with the newborn, you will have a change in income as well. Learn more about the costs associated with a new family member in Can You Afford A Newborn?
Test your IncomeIf you or your spouse is thinking about staying home with the baby, try to live on only one income for a few months while you are both still working. Then make a decision if you can live on one income. Keep in mind that there are a lot of extra expenses with a newborn.
Discuss FinancesTry to save as much money as you can before having a baby. Testing your income, as mentioned above, is one way to build a savings nest.
Talk to your spouse about what you can and can't live without and what is most important to you as a family. Make decisions about finances together.
Feelings of Resentment or GuiltFeeling as though your partner isn’t doing his or her share of the work can lead to resentment. If one parent is staying home while the other is working, the stay-at-home parent may develop feelings of guilt and try to compensate by doing more work around the house.
Seek Support of OthersTalk to your family and friends now about what you will be going through and how they can help you and your spouse. Also, know that you are not alone. Many websites such as What To Expect and Baby Center offer resources and forums where parents can talk with others who are going through the same thing.
Increased Presence of GrandparentsNew grandparents will probably want lots of time with the baby. They may show up often and unannounced. Grandparents might be resentful or feel threatened by in-laws.
Set BoundariesTalk to the future grandparents now and set up times when they can come over to spend time with the baby. Also, ask your spouse to talk to their parents if boundaries are crossed.
Change in LifestyleOnce you have a baby, you won't be able to spend time with friends as much. You and your spouse will probably have to cut back on eating out, going to the movies and taking vacations. Your finances may also not allow you to buy as many luxury items.
CompromiseConsider limiting luxury items now as a test of what you can and can't live without. Talk to each other about what items are important to you. You may have to compromise or go without a luxury item you want. When you do spend money on luxury items, make sure it's something that both of you can enjoy. Discuss setting up dates with friends now so you can spend time with them once the new baby comes without feeling guilty.
Baby Blues and Postpartum DepressionAccording to Horizon Health Services, it is not uncommon for women to feel sad after the birth of their baby because of the sudden hormone change that occurs. These feelings should go away within 10-14 days. If they don't, it may be postpartum depression, which can affect 10 to 15% of women.
Get HelpBe aware that you may experience some sadness after birth. If you think you might experience postpartum depression or other challenges associated with the birth of a baby, contact Horizon Health Services at (716) 831-1800.
Although bringing a child into your home requires an adjustment in your lifestyle and routines, proper planning can ensure that you and your partner don't feel overwhelmed or at odds with one another; in fact, your relationship may be stronger than ever.