Expecting? Make sure you baby-proof your relationship before two becomes three
Expecting your first baby is SUCH an exciting time and usually one that involves lots and lots of preparation.
You've spent (vast amounts) of money on prams, car seats, and a sling. Stocked the freezer with dinners for days when cooking will no longer be so easily done and painted the nursery. All set, you think?
Clearly all the bits you need to buy are important, but it mightn't be a bad idea to invest a little (more than usual) time and attention into your relationship as well during this special time.
After all; life as you know it is about to change FOREVER. Because much as becoming a family is the most amazing thing to happen to any couple, ensuring that you two remember to be partners as well as parents IS important. It will hopefully help give your union staying power, even on days when you are close to lunacy from sleep deprivation, and nobody can remember why you chose each other in the first place.
Being kind and making sure you laugh together (even when you are knee-deep in nappies and sore nipples) can be hard to remember at times, but might be easier if you try to squeeze in some of these baby-proofing ideas before (and after!) baby comes:
1. Go on (lots of) dates
Make sure you go on as many dates as you can squeeze in when you are expecting your first baby (and any subsequent ones!). These don't have to involve expensive dinners or fancy hotel breaks, it can be as simple as taking the dog for a walk, just as long as you do it together. Doing this now will ensure that the memory of alone, romantic time will be fresh in your minds and a habit when the baby comes.
When you are on your date, practice talking about other things besides the baby. The natural inclination for ANY parent, expecting or not, is to talk about The Baby (it never stops!), but start practicing now, and you WILL get better. You can coo at the baby together when you are with the little one - spend your precious together time focusing on one another.
2. Learn to make the most of moments together
3. Minimize conflicts FAST
While this is a good idea for any relationship at any stage, it's particularly important for couples going through a major change, such as starting a family. Remember you are heading into a time where hormones, fatigue, leaky boobs and lack-of-time will take center-stage, meaning it can be easy for tension to rise. But learn to zoom out and realize that these are extremely special circumstances, and that you need to cut each other a little slack and – most importantly – talk things out, quickly. Open communication is key, so practice now, before baby comes.
4. Sleep. As much as humanly possible
Sleep deprived people aren't very nice humans. You will no doubt come to learn this, both about yourself and your partner. Such is life; sleep deprivation just takes on a whole new level once you have a baby. You will even start admiring yourselves for just how much you can function on so little sleep day after day, week after week.
Learn how to handle sleep deprivation as a couple. If lack of sleep makes you or your partner moody or short-tempered, be aware – and self-aware – about this, so that you avoid taking this out on each other.
5. Say YES to sex
I get it. For many of us, pregnancy is NOT the time when we feel the most sexy. And many of us also suffer from that exhausting tiredness that only pregnant women can relate to when expecting. But still, your sex-drive, much like your muscles, needs regular workouts in order to stay strong. In other words; use it – so you don't lose it.
Because if you are waiting for your libido to kick in, chances are (especially after baby is born and you will experience tiredness like you have never felt before), you could be waiting forever.
There is a happy medium to be found here, I guess. So instead of turning your partner down every time he wants to be intimate because you feel tired and less-than-sexy, take some time to see if maybe your body will start responding after-all (when you all of a sudden remember just how great sex with that handsome husband of yours really is!).
Remember, though, to not put any pressure on yourself regarding sex in any immediate time frame after bringing the baby home. Rather, rest and adjust to your new family, keep the lines of communication open with your partner and be loving and patient with one another, knowing that your sex-life will return. Just remember, if it didn't, families with two or more children would be few and far between!