Monday, September 11, 2006

Intimacy After the Baby is Born

After a new baby joins the family, it seems as if every friend and relative the parents have will be offering some kind of advice. Most of that advice will be about how to raise the baby. The new parents can decide to either follow some of the advice or just smile and nod and then decide that they surely know what's best for their child and do things their own way.

One issue never seems to come up when everyone is freely giving their good (or bad!) advice, however. That is how to recapture intimacy in your marriage after that precious bundle of joy and energy arrives. You have waited patiently for nine months and you researched everything you could think of that concerned raising a tiny little newborn into a wonderful adult.

You know how to bathe baby, and you know what foods you will be feeding him or her when that time comes. You have everything in the nursery that you could possibly need and maybe if you really enjoy researching, you have even thought and planned beyond the first year.

By the time the first hectic week or two passes, you will realize that there is probably something that you forgot to consider when all that planning was going on. You forgot to plan how to get intimacy back with your partner, or maybe even have any quality time together at all.

The first weeks will be filled with night wakings and guests coming to see the baby. The new mother will be struggling to get enough rest and sleep herself so that she can be ready to handle those middle of the night feedings. In addition to everything else, chances are that she will need to be dealing with extra laundry as well as the rest of the housework.

Enter the first thing that may help. When friends and relatives ask if they can do anything to help, by all means take them up on the offer. Don't overwork them or have them slaving away with your laundry for hours, but think of something that will help you. If someone could do just a load or two of baby's laundry, it's often a great help. If someone can do your dishes or vacuuming, great!

If you don't agree with having someone come by to do some of your housework while you rest some days, consider allowing them to bring dinner. Some groups of friends I know will automatically provide a week of dinners for new parents. Often church groups will do this, too. It is a big time saver and any time mom can save or use to rest during the day gives her more time to spend with her partner.

Take family and friends up on offers to do babysitting and plan a date! Granted you won't want to do this right away, but surely when the baby is a few weeks old, you can slip away for a couple of hours. Making sure that the sitter is someone you trust completely will assure that you don't spend your date worrying.

Remember that a date doesn't have to cost much at all if money is short due to the expanding family. Arrange for a sitter while you both go for a drive or a long walk. Go to the mall and walk the distance from one end to the other while window shopping.

If you are not comfortable going out too soon, plan a gourmet meal with your partner. Don't forget the candles! Just plan it for a time when the baby has been sleeping. Renting a few movies is another way to be able to stay home. Just remember that the baby will probably wake a time or two, but keep the focus on having a "date night" and it should work out fine.

If you don't want to plan a date for whatever reason, at least remember that part of intimacy is conversation. Talk to your partner. If there seems to be no time for talking, then make time. A quiet dinner because everyone's exhausted and then flopping in front of the television without saying a word to each other isn't doing anyone any good.

A doctor will probably recommend that sexual relations not resume until about six weeks after the birth. Don't wait until then to have meaningful conversation daily. Things will probably never be the same as before the pregnancy, but there are plenty of things you can do to make sure that the spark remains.