marriage, motherhood

Working Together with Your Partner After Baby

5 WAYS TO BE ON THE SAME TEAM

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SOMETIMES MY HUSBAND DRIVES ME NUTS.

No one in their right mind will tell you that parenting is a breeze. On top of that, we know that doing this new, messy, and overwhelming journey while trying to keep clear and positive communication with a partner can be… well… challenging and can leave you fighting with your husband over parenting styles or feeling alone. There are, though, ways to remember you’re on the same team in parenting and improve marriage and parenting communication and collaboration.

At work, you know that operating cohesively takes a plan and intention. Some things are emotional, some are logistical. The mix of both is needed and parenting isn’t any different. These 5 communication tips just might help you increase understanding, decrease assumptions, be efficient and purposeful and enjoy your time together as a family more. (As always on this page- every family and dynamic is different and I don’t believe in “flawless how-tos” so know that some of these will apply to you, some might not, and you might have other ideas to add!)

RELATED: Back in the Sack: Sex and Intimacy

always mad at my husband since we had a baby
  1. LISTS, LISTS AND MORE LISTS

Keeping tabs on what needs to be done can be key. In our home, we have tier 1, tier 2, and tier 3.
Tier 1: Non-negotiables. Worth losing sleep for.
Tier 2: It would benefit our life if we did these things. Choose them over most other options in “free” time
Tier 3: This would be really nice, but doesn’t come before sleep or other means of sanity seeking.

Lists can take the form of digital or tangible, but don’t leave them to mental. That never turns out well. Call it a “to-do” list or give it a name that feels fun to you.

Here are a few suggestions:
Anylist: Keep a running grocery list. If someone is out and can stop, they know what is needed. Share the list and you can both add to it anytime you notice you’er running low on something or have a new recipe in mind. This takes out the “Remember, I asked you to pick up ____?” Nope.

Trello: This app is often used for business, but is very relevant to sharing the tasks that need done in the family. You can create shareable boards and “cards” on each board. Make the boards your “tiers” and the cards the tasks that need completed. You can move them when completed.

Google Doc: You know how sometimes you start a heavy conversation at an inopportune time because you don’t want to forget about it or miss your chance? Doesn’t usually pan out well, does it? Share a running Google Doc where you can write the conversation topics you want to address when you have the time. (Make sure to schedule this time weekly/nightly/what works for you!) When you get a chance to talk, pull up the document and get the conversation going when you’re not in the heat of the moment.

Whiteboard on the fridge: No app here. Classic, simple, easy.

2. MAKE EXPECTATIONS CLEAR

We have a tendency to believe that other people know what we are thinking. Usually, we don’t marry mind-readers so this doesn’t work out well.  Clear expectations can be key. Sometimes it means saying what you think should be abel to be left unsaid. Over-communicate for clarity and understanding. You’re going to want to set up expectations at different times, too, as they are always evolving. Perhaps you walk through the house and address anything you can think of in each room. Take notes if needed (that Google shared document again!) Have clear lines that divide you and your responsibilities and have shared things that can be picked up in a spare moment. Schedule your “you” time too so you know it is a priority and a time that the other can’t expect you to be diving into the to-do lists or picking up extra responsibilities.

RELATED: Postpartum Together Small Groups (We get real about ways to make partnership work!)

3. ROOT DOWN AND REMEMBER

Take time to root down in your values as a couple.
Create a vision board together.
Return to your 1 year, 5 year, 10 year goals and plans.
Revisit what made you start this journey together.
Have conversations that are filled with dreams AND take time to acknowledge together the goals you have accomplished and the dreams you’re fulfilling.

Remember- you are in a season. Some days it feels like a lifetime, but this season is not forever. Roles, expectations, needs- they will continue to change. Marriage in each season brings challenges, but sticking together helps ease through them.

how to share the mental load in parenting

4. LET YOUR PARTNER HAVE HIS/HER OWN WAY OF PARENTING.

Have you ever found yourself subtlety (or not so subtlety) telling your partner that you’d do it this way  or ___ isn’t good for the baby/child? Do you find yourself leaving too descriptive of an agenda when you’re leaving the house? Might you be a helicopter partner? Chill out a bit. Your partner is a parent too and he/she has made it this far- let them parent and parent their own way. (This doesn’t apply if you have reason to not trust your partner, in which case, that’s a bigger conversation than we’re having here.)

5. DATE YOUR PARTNER

Have date nights with the rule of NOT talking home logistics, parenting, etc. You are parents, but you are still partners and individuals and you need time to talk about the things that brought you together and keep you building your life together. This is a great time to revisit those goals and dreams. Watch comedy and laugh. Share what you’ve been doing or reading outside of parenting. Do a hobby together. I KNOW I KNOW it’s really hard to get a date (sitters, bedtimes, finances, etc.). It doesn’t even have to be out, you can check out these great ideas (I seriously NEED those pretzels!) for some at-home date nights ideas for when the kids are sleeping (That happens now and then, right?)

So remember- in the midst of this all- you are a TEAM. Communicating and collaborating takes intention. It takes time in the moments you feel like you don’t have a second to spare. It takes listening and speaking truthfully. But you- you can do it. You’ve got this. It won’t always be pretty (let me just normalize that because I KNOW it’s true) but you’ve got this.

Need to make it easier? Download this quick and easy Date Night Planner so that when the moment comes, you can get right to a date you enjoy!

communicating with your husband after having a baby

You’re on the same team: Team grow the kids, keep the house livable, have personal growth and fulfillment, and love one another.

The seasons change and so do you. Communicate. Collaborate. Celebrate. Do these things together as often as possible.

Tell me- how do you and your partner stay on the same team?


working from home with your partner

Related: Sex After Baby

marriage, Postpartum

Sex After Baby

IS SEX AFTER BABY WEIRD FOR EVERYONE?

There’s a reason SEX is one of the main topics discussed in the group coaching program I run, Postpartum Together, Sex is affected by every transition we face in postpartum AND it flows into all the areas.

This site may contain affiliate links to products. This means, at no additional cost to you, I may receive a commission for purchases made through these links.

how long do people wait to have sex after baby

SEXY TIME JUST GOT AWKWARD

Oh hey momma- There aren’t many things that are more awkward than sex after having a baby.

You are a few weeks (or months) out from having the baby. FINALLY the house is quiet with no cries of hunger or a dirty diaper. “This is our chance” you tell your significant other. You get to the bedroom and you start to undress the mombod you’ve acquired. Maybe this feels invigorating, but for many women, this comes with a lot of overwhelming feelings. In general, marriage with young kids can be hard!

Whether you had a vaginal delivery, a cesarean, or your baby came out your ears, your baby-making area is not the same as it was just days, weeks or months prior. To be fair- your mind and emotions are not the same as they were either. You have undergone what is arguably the biggest transition possible for a woman. So here you are trying to re-engage in intimacy with your partner- you know, the kind of intimacy that created this little human being- and yet it often doesn’t feel like a smooth transition. A lot of women feel alone in this which brings shame and guilt. Women feel like they have something “wrong” with them. The reality, more women feel like this than we often believe and momma friend- you aren’t alone. In my virtual postpartum coaching group, Postpartum Together, a number of women have shared this being one of the most difficult transitions not just physically, but emotionally and mentally too.

It’s weird. It’s messy. Oftentimes it’s painful.

BIRTH, SEX AND HORMONES

Pregnancy and childbirth is extremely hormonal. These hormones can have an effect on both your mental/emotional sex drive. They can alter your physical libido, natural lubrication and body preparation for sex. Perinatal mood disorders (postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, postpartum psychosis, PTSD) can also play a huge role in reluctancy, disinterest, and even fear of engaging in sex. Physically, the body has changed and sex can be painful. However, sex should not always be painful. If you are continuing to experience pain, get yourself to a physical therapist! While it’s not regularly talked about, pelvic floor PT is often necessary for moms post-birth and from experience, I can tell you it’s worth it!

When surveyed, a large number of women shared that on the first attempt at post-baby sex, they cried.
A large number shared that, on the first attempt, it just didn’t happen.

To bring some light and normalization, I recently took to the trusty Instagram to survey this hot topic. You’ll read what other moms say prohibit them from engaging in sex, how they described sex after baby, and some tips and ideas for making it happen and enjoying it again.

RELATED: Back in the Sack, Free Postpartum Sex Guide

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WHAT’S KEEPING WOMEN FROM ENGAGING IN SEX AFTER A BABY?

When polled, women of different ages, backgrounds, number of children, etc. responded with a number of related factors that play into sex:

-Not feeling it
-Postpartum anxiety which seeped into my sex life
-Sex came last to everything we had to do in caring for a newborn
-I was tired and didn’t feel like it
-Trauma from birth
-Stitches- even after I mentally knew they were healed, it was a weird thing
-Exhausted
-Having a baby always close by
-Not feeling sexy
-Feeling touched out
-Fear of pain
-Time
-Feeling like an exhausted dairy cow (breastfeeding!)
-Not confident in my appearance
-Being over stimulated
-Turning off mom brain and focusing
-Stretch marks
-Leaky boobs
-I’ve already given all of myself
Time, pain and anxiety were the three most common responses. Are these relatable to you? Let me know in the comments which reason resonates (or if it’s something else!)

THERE’S NO TIME FOR SEX:

Time: It’s no secret that babies take a lot of time. They are fully dependent, they lack sleep consistency, and any wrench in the schedule can take days to repair. This leaves parents feeling tired and with little “free” time for all the things they hope to accomplish.

PAINFUL POSTPARTUM SEX

Pain: Both vaginal and cesarean births come with changes to our bodies that take time to heal. After going through something as big (and sometimes traumatic) as birthing a child, the fear of returning or lingering pain is a reality for many women. Keep reading below for some insight from a professional on sexual pain.

RELATED: Fourth Trimester Restore (eCourse for pelvic floor and core rehab) Mention Chelsea at checkout

ANXIOUS ABOUT HAVING SEX AGAIN

Anxiety: Whether it’s a diagnosed case of postpartum anxiety or the specific areas of anxiety related to this new stage, anxiety can but a halt in our desires and effort for sex. In our survey anxiety was most frequently linked to body image and care for the baby. A woman who feels insecure in her body feels anxious about reengaging intimacy with a new look and feel. A woman who is continually worried about the well-being of her baby has a hard time getting her mind in the mode to be intimate.

SO WHEN WOMEN GET TO THE SPACE OF ENGAGING IN SEX AFTER HAVING A BABY, HOW DO THEY DESCRIBE IT?

-Painful
-Very rare
-The same
-Slow
-A process requiring patience and realistic expectations
-Limited
-Non-existent
-Tender
-Uncomfortable
-Interesting
-A nice thought, but not a reality
-The last thing on my mind
-Unexpectedly painful
-Not happening
-Well needed bonding time
-Horrible
-The best
-An afterthought
-Weird
-Exhausting and leaky
-Took 10 months
-Cringey
-Better
-Extra stitch
-Daunting
-Last thing on my mind (which causes some marriage rifts)
-Slow-going
-Painful
-Not on the radar
-Nerve wracking
-Boring
-Amazing

As you read, a large majority of these descriptors link back to the fears and reluctances we read above. If postpartum sex isn’t as glorious as you would like it to be, there seem to be a number of women who are in the same boat. For some women, though, sex is better than ever after a baby.

IDEAS TO HELP GET BACK TO INTIMACY (WHEN YOU’RE FEELING GROSS/ANXIOUS/TIRED/PAIN):

The majority of women surveyed feel like their sex life has taken a hit post- baby for a number of reasons. These are important things to talk with your partner about (Click for a free Date Night Planner download!)

When we normalize the struggle, and share some possible ideas for improvement, we all win! Here’s what the community has to say:

-Watch comedy/stand up- laugh together to connect and loosen up
-Don’t force it- go for it on a day you feel more human
-Take a shower
-Wear your baby out all day or get a sitter
-Look in each other’s eyes and touch face
-Massages, hanging out in bed, cuddling
-Remove the expectation of sex happening and just be intimate
-Give yourself 5 minutes to self to mentally prepare/pray
-Have honest conversations with your partner about what you feel comfortable with
-Buy yourself something that feels sexy
-Wash your face, (or other 5 min hacks)
-Shower together
-Get a spray tan
-Text throughout the day to start the conversation
-Put it on the calendar to think about it and plan
-Ask each other about what to say/do during day to prepare for it and then practice what it is they share will get them in the mood
-Steamy text messages
-Back rub
-Pinches on the butt/playful during the day
-Long hug
-Essential oils

Download your Back in the Sack Guide to help you work through sex after baby and getting back into the sack with your partner.

postpartum sex tips

One momma who indicated that sex has gotten better post-baby shared: “Wait until you’re ready. It took me probably 5 tries to be okay with having sex again. I was so scared and it hurt like hell. The first time, I stopped him and cried and he just held me. But by having a partner to communicate openly with (and lots of lube!) practice can make perfect again. Plus- foreplay throughout the days in between. We are always playfully grabbing at each other, dragging out that goodbye/goodnight kiss a little longer and sending flirty texts. I find myself wanting him SO much more and when it comes to the nights it’s more raw, passionate and wild now. Plus, I feel closer to him than ever before. There’s something about my husband witnessing and helping with labor and delivery, all the postpartum healing both emotionally and physically that brought us closer together.”

Jessica, of The REALentless Mother writes about this in her book. “I always enjoyed sex with my husband but before kids, I was extremely self-conscious about how I looked, the sounds I made, even what my face looked like. I worried about it all! As a result, I spent more time in my own head than I did enjoying the intimate moments with my husband. After having 2 kids under two, I went on a challenging yet incredible journey to find balance and enjoy my life again. I share this transformation in my latest book The REALentless Mother. On this journey one of the things I discovered was the less I cared about what others thought of me, the happier I was. This shift has had a massive impact on all areas of my life, but our sex life is one unexpected bonus. I feel free to ask for what I want, try new things, and put myself out there like never before. Since this personal transformation, I have surprised my husband with a risqué photo shoot, bought naughty board games (my absolute favorite new date night activity), and had the confidence to wear sexy new things to bed. After having two kids in two years, my body is not what it used to be, but I have never felt sexier in my own skin. Embrace and love who you are, Mama. Confidence is irresistible.”

POSTPARTUM SEX AND BODY IMAGE

Stop following “fitspiration” moms. Some of these people are paid to lose the baby weight. Some have genetics that are prone to quick loss. Some of them are dealing with medical/body issues you can’t see from the outside. There tends to be a big societal emphasis on postpartum women to “bounce” back or lose the “baby weight” but you still have a baby- you still have a body that is working through the baby process and this is not a time to give yourself a timeline and strict rules. The stress of it isn’t worth it. If someone is pressuring you, bye Felicia.

PAINFUL POSTPARTUM SEX

You might wonder if it was something you did or didn’t do during pregnancy and birth. In addition, painful sex can feel isolating and put unwanted strain on marriage. Yet, you are not alone. In fact, there are a number of women that report painful sex or pain in their pelvis after birth. In many European countries, physical therapy after baby is standard. Physical Therapy can do a number of things for your pelvic floor and body after having a baby, if you are able- check into it for yourself!

One reason for pain after birth can actually happen when the pelvic floor muscles become too tight. This can happen for a number of reasons, including birth trauma, past history of sexual abuse, and over use or improper use of pelvic floor strengthening exercises.

So, what is a girl to do? The ability to relax the pelvic floor is the goal when it comes to painful sex and pelvic pain. Michele of Mindful Mama Method gives these tips for releasing the pelvic floor.

GETTING BACK TO ROMANCE AFTER BABY

sex after baby not excited

1. Remember that you’re not the only one feeling the way you do, even if it feels like it.
2.Communicate with your partner. Maybe try one of these at-home date night ideas!
3. Love yourself fiercely!
4. Let your S.O read this too, so they can get an understanding of other mommas. Share with a momma friend (or future momma) to reminder her that we’re all in this together!
5. Let me know in the comments what I missed!

Are you a postpartum mom (or soon to be one?) If you would benefit from more support and community in your postpartum period (and who wouldn’t?), maybe Postpartum Together is for you. This is my virtual group coaching program committed to educating, normalizing and empowering your postpartum in the safety of a small group coaching experience.

marriage

Marriage Feels Harder with Kids

This is not always a Fairytale

fairytale+marriage-min.jpeg

Providing free content is a priority at Postpartum Together. This page may contain affiliate links which means, at no additional cost to you, we may receive a commission for your purchase. Don’t worry, we only promote things we believe in because we love you!

ONCE UPON A TIME….

You fall madly in love.
You get married.
You plan your futures.
You have kids.
Your family is now complete and lives happily ever after.

That’s how the storyline is supposed to go, right? That’s what we are fed in books and movies. This is the fairytale that we learn as young children and hold on to, at least to some extent, as we grow older.

There are 4 distinct times that I know I considering leaving my marriage. Once when I was nearing the end of my first pregnancy. Once when Emerson was just a couple of months old.. Once when I was 39 weeks pregnant with Sage. Once when she was 2 months old.

See a pattern here?

Let me cut to the chase- kids can make marriage really tough.

RELATED: Communication Tips for Postpartum Partners

NOT QUITE A FAIRYTALE.

Before kids I always heard about how “Seeing your husband as a dad will make you fall more in love with him!” Yeah, I mean, that’s true, but you know what’s also true? Adding kids to the family makes you doubt yourself, your partner, your relationship and more.

Sleep deprivation.
Hormone shifts.
Identify crisis.
Being entrusted to keep tiny humans alive without an owner’s manual…

new dad with onesie

These things take a toll on you. And when it takes a toll on both you and your partner, chances are your communication isn’t as graceful, your nights aren’t as snuggly (or intimate) and even your well-intentioned actions aren’t as happily received.

Before kids, I would have described our marriage as a collaborative dream and adventure partnership. Currently I would describe it as a business transaction with a little flirting in the back office on a good day.

There’s so much shit to get done. These tiny humans, they double the amount of work-mentally, physically and emotionally- exponentially. We have to be extra vigilant about the calendar, the food prep, the laundry… we are constantly working on feedings, bathings, or cleaning up from one of the two. Our brains- they’re trying to remember what time the baby woke up and what day the next doctor’s appointment is. Other than that, they feel fried.

When we both feel “off” you can hear us comparing who got LESS sleep, who spent more time cleaning, who the toddler ran all the energy out of, etc. While momma is feeling touched out and insecure in her new body, dad is feeling completely unnoticed and undervalued.

RELATED: Relationships After Baby (eCourse)

HARD? YES. NORMAL? PROBABLY.

Chances are in this stage, you don’t hate your partner, you just feel distant. You feel unseen while also feeling out of energy to see your partner. You’re pouring into the lives of little humans who NEED you to survive and it causes you to put less energy into your partner who can (most likely) survive on his/her own. The little extra things you used to do, they are probably not in the forefront of your mind right now. You probably aren’t spending as much time out of the house and with your friends, so you feel even more isolated and irritable.

Do I hate my husband? No. Will this last forever? Probably not. Are these days and nights hard? Hell yes. Are you going to make it through? You are. We are all engaging something totally new together and we need one another to make it work but we don’t even know how to take the next step sometimes. Parenting is hard. Marriage is hard. Marriage while parenting is really hard.

I’m not a therapist. I’m no marriage expert. I don’t have anything extravagant to offer. What I can offer you is this- when you feel like marriage gets hard with kids, you’re not alone. When it feels overwhelming and you can’t believe you thought the thoughts you said you’d never think… you’re not alone. When it’s the middle of the night and you’re crying wondering why you feel so alone in a room with your best friend, you’re heard. When you feel guilty because marriage and parenthood are supposed to be the two best things in your life and yet you don’t feel blissful… I got you, friend. There’s more of us than we know because these are feelings we often fly under the radar. I’m team “preserve marriage, invest in marriage and enjoy marriage,” but I’m also team “marriage is really hard and we need more safe spaces to talk about that.”

free date night planner

Looking to make date nights easier? Take out the awkward “What should we do? Conversation with this Free Date Night Planner.