4 Important Steps to Transition Your Relationship Into The Postpartum Period

If you are currently pregnant, let’s take a minute to see what might be ahead…

[Cue the dreamy sound bite that tells us we are fast-forwarding a little.]

You just had your baby and you think to yourself you have prepared enough so things will magically fall into place. Let me tell you right off the bat... not really.

As your little one adjusts to life outside the womb and you enter into mommyhood, a.k.a. the 4th trimester, you realize it is an entirely different zone and you weren't warned to prepare for this phase of motherhood.  After the baby registry, baby shower, decorating a Pinterest-perfect nursery, and taking the prenatal hospital class you thought you were done. Not quite.

Reasons to Prepare for the 4th Trimester

What many moms don't realize is that there is an equal need to prepare for the changes and the challenges that come after the baby is born.  Setting up the household for cruise control, planning for relationship challenges with your partner, and anticipating how much support you will need when the baby arrives are among the essential aspects to prepare for.

While many people survive without the kind of preparation I know is needed to have the best possible entry into motherhood, this phase is so critical with so many moving pieces that I wouldn't recommend otherwise. Consider the following: 

Self-Care Needs

During this crucial period, all of the attention and focus is on the baby.  The baby is the priority and rightfully so.  This leads to new moms’ tendency to neglect self-care.  They may feel they neither have the time nor the energy for any self-care.

Postpartum Blues

Neglect of self-care leads to a domino effect of several other negative consequences, foremost of which is postpartum blues.  There is a high rate of postpartum blues and postpartum depression (PPD) during this stage.  

Not researching the people and services you may or may not need ahead of time decreases the chances of moms seeking out these people and services when they truly need them.

Breastfeeding Support

Breastfeeding, no matter how natural after childbirth, doesn't come easy for all.  New moms also need support during this time to be able to achieve success if they plan to breastfeed directly or through pumping.

Impact on Your Relationship

Nothing can alter a couple’s relationship so dramatically than a newborn baby.  According to research presented by John Gottman PhD, to APA’s 2011 Annual Convention,  67 percent of couples see their marital satisfaction plummet after having a baby.

From the newlywed period through the transition to parenthood, Gottman discovered most couples break-up within the first seven years because they became parents.  This could be brought about by unresolved issues during this period snowballing over time.

When new moms are stressed and overwhelmed by the challenges of having a new baby, they can start resenting their partners for being “insensitive” to their needs.  Often expecting their partners to read their minds.  What’s more, is that this potentially leads to other unhealthy behaviors like starting to keep score.

Postpartum blues can also enter the picture and make matters worse.  Seventy to 80 percent of women experience postpartum blues and about 10 to 20 percent experience postpartum depression (PPD).  For half of the women who go through PPD, it is the first time for them to experience depression.

How to Plan and Prepare Your Relationship for the 4th Trimester

So, how are you supposed to plan and prepare for various challenges that a newborn baby brings to your relationship?

Here are 4 helpful steps to take:

Step 1:  Talk about the changes you think may happen once the baby arrives.

  1. Ask yourself the question, “how do you think your relationship and household will change?”.
  2. Make adjustments to prepare for your specific changes.

Step 2:  Find out what your love language is and what your partner’s love language is.

  1. You can use The Love Nudge app to take the Love Language quiz and get prompts to “nudge” you into taking action towards your relationship goals

  2. Remember that how you like to receive or give love, may not be the way your partner likes to receive or give love.

  3. Answer each other the following questions:
    How would you like your partner to support you?
    - How would your partner like to be supported?”
    - How can each of you find additional support outside of each other?

  4. Pinky swear you will have clear communication. No cryptic talk or simply dropping hints, then expecting the other person to “GET” it.

Step 3:  Set up your support system ahead of time AND lean on them.

  1. Remember that it truly takes a whole village to raise a baby. 
  2. If you want to be happy, you need to plan for it.
  3. Doing it alone, or with just your partner is too hard, and you will resent each other for being the one that does everything. 

Step 4:  Screen and monitor for postpartum blues and postpartum depression

  1. Check out the Edinburgh Perinatal/Postnatal Depression Scale (EPDS)
  2. Take before you have baby between 28-32 weeks
  3. Take again after having baby at 6-8 weeks

Kallista Andersen

Kallista helps pregnant mamas get ready for their baby by preparing their self, space, and significant other. She does so through her podcast, The New Mom Boss Podcast, as well as coaching, and online course New Mom Prep School. Kallista is a Registered Nurse, a Certified Lactation Counselor, and is a mom of 3. 

Her passion to help new moms was born when she had her first 2 kids 13 months apart --catapulting her into the new mom phase back to back. It is her mission to make preparing to be a new mom simple and thorough so that women can enter motherhood with confidence AND love their postpartum period.