Having a baby and becoming a parent can be the happiest moment of your life, but the journey through parenthood isn’t without its rough patches. One such moment is the stress that you experience after having a child, especially if you’ve just had your first baby. You’re constantly on high alert, worrying about your baby. The feeling like that there’s not enough time to accomplish what you want to do, much less what you have to do happens.
You may feel like you’ll never sleep soundly again. The early stages of being a parent to a newborn can take a toll on your mental well-being, especially if you have postpartum depression (PPD), which is the onset of depression shortly after giving birth. This type of stress doesn’t hurt just you – it can affect your partner as well, and ultimately hurt your relationship.
Some stress is good – and necessary – to have. Situational stress can spur you into action and motivate you to deal with whatever it is that’s bothering you. However, when you are under too much stress, it becomes counterproductive. You feel like you can’t function properly because you’re so stressed, and you become more stressed because you feel you aren’t accomplishing your tasks. It’s a tough cycle to break.
Luckily, there is a way to manage. In this post, we’ll look at how counseling can help relationship struggles after the baby
Counseling can Help You Develop a Healthier Routine with Baby in Mind
When you first have a baby, you may need to radically adjust your schedule. One major (and early!) adjustment likely will be your sleeping schedule, as the baby will wake you up multiple times throughout the night. Not sleeping enough can make you stressed, irritable, and reduce your focus. One big way to manage stress from parenting a newborn is to get enough sleep. Can you and your partner make a schedule for baby feeding shifts in the middle of the night? Are you able to sleep at the same times the baby is sleeping? Your counselor can help you determine what options are available to you to develop a schedule that works best for you and the baby.
Your current schedule may also not allow you enough time to unwind. Key to your mental health is making time for yourself and indulging in things that make you happy and feel good. Completely ignoring your own needs can cause stress and depression. A therapist can help you prioritize your time (and needs!) by helping you create a personal schedule of any frequency – daily 15-minute meditations, date night once a week, or maybe a once-monthly trip to the spa – to maximize taking care of your baby and your mental health at the same time.
Counseling can Help You Manage Your Worrying
It’s natural to worry when you first have a baby. Babies are delicate and dependent entirely on you, so it’s normal for you to consistently wonder if they’re eating enough, sleeping well, and/or if they’re sick. However, too much worry can add to the stress you are already experiencing. A therapist can teach you techniques to manage thoughts of worry and ultimately mitigate the stress you might experience as a result.
Counseling Helps Address Relationship Issues
During any relationship, having a child together can be your toughest test. There will be plenty of disagreements about raising your child, starting with the time immediately after they are born. One person may want to be strict with their newborn’s exposure to new activities and very cautious when it comes to approaching milestones like eating solid foods and learning to walk, and their partner may be more willing to let their child define when and how they experience new things.
There will be disagreements about the budget and how much is being spent on things for the baby, whose turn it is to take care of the baby’s bottle in the middle of the night, and many other arguments pertaining to parenthood. Having arguments is a normal part of relationships, but trying to resolve them by dealing with conflict in an unhealthy way is not.
A counselor can teach you both how to turn arguments into a productive conversation by trying to reach an agreement or compromise rationally, rather than trying to tear each other down and get the last word in. It’s hard to resolve conflict when emotions and tempers flare, but with a little bit of diplomacy and skills learned in therapy, it can be easier than you think.
These are just a few ways that counseling can help you with relationship stress after having a baby. Having a counselor for you and your partner can be useful for all stages of parenthood, so don’t end your relationship with your therapist just because you’ve gotten a handle on how to manage your stress for this stage in your parenting journey. Maintaining the well-being of your relationship and your own mental health is another way to ensure your baby grows up happy and healthy!