Postpartum Anxiety; Why Should Postpartum Depression Get all the Attention?

Postpartum Anxiety | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

Postpartum Anxiety | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

While it’s definitely not perfect, there is some level of awareness and attention that is paid to postpartum depression.  You may be asked by your midwife or doula about feeling sad or tearful.  People may hesitantly ask how your mood is, whether you have been feeling okay.  Postpartum anxiety, however, gets mostly ignored.  However, it can be just as common and definitely just as distressing, as postpartum depression.  Let’s yank postpartum anxiety out of the shadows!

Postpartum Anxiety Symptoms

You worry about everything.   Is your baby too hot? Is your baby too cold? Is he eating enough? Not enough?  Has she been sleeping too long? Should you wake you her up? What if you do wake her, then what?

It feels like your mind can’t stop.  One worry feeds off the other worry, which then triggers another worry, and then you find even more stuff to worry about.

Since your mind can’t stop, it is difficult for your body to stop. You are fluttering around, cleaning things, straightening, things, reorganizing, folding hundreds of baby wash cloths.  You are not getting any sense of achievement from these activities; it almost feels like you are compelled to do them.

You are exhausted. Sure, your baby is keeping you from getting solid sleep, but you’re struggling with sleep even when the baby is sleeping.  You lie down and your mind starts to race. You feel overwhelmed and suddenly it feels like you need to get out of bed NOW.

You may start to have some pretty disturbing thoughts. These thoughts terrify you and you know that you would never want to act on them, but you just can’t make the thoughts stop.

You may be scared that you shouldn’t be with the baby alone.  You worry that you aren’t a good mother, that you shouldn’t be trusted to take care of your child.  You are filled with dread when your partner leaves the house and desperately want them to stay home with you.

You may not identify it as anxiety, but you know that you feel off.  It feels like there is something wrong, and you’re not sure what it is.

You may be experiencing physical symptoms like stomach aches, headaches, feeling jittery. It feels like you’ve had too much caffeine (psst, which actually may be true if you’ve been trying to cope with the exhaustion with coffee or tea)

You don’t even know how to explain how you feel; you just know that it sucks and you really don’t want to feel like this.

You may experience some or all of these symptoms.  You may start feeling these symptoms during pregnancy and up to 12 months after having your child.  If you have these symptoms, it does not mean that you are weak, or not cut out to be a mom, or destined to feel like this for the rest of your life.  It just means that you need help.  It means that you are struggling.  Counselling may help.  Please contact me if you are worried. 

Anger After Baby: The One Feeling that No One Wants to Talk About

Postpartum Anger | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

Postpartum Anger | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services




These are not the typical emotions we think of when we think of having a baby.  But they happen. They can actually happen for many women.  But no one is talking about it, and for lots of good reasons.  We don’t want to be judged. We feel that we’re doing something wrong. We’re scared that someone will call child services on us if we admit just how angry we are. We have no idea what is happening to us and it is so freaking scary.


There may be many reasons why you are feeling angry.

1)      Lack of sleep.  Having a baby automatically means that you are getting way less sleep than you need, every night for months on end. When we are tired we are much more likely to feel irritable, especially when we know there’s no end in sight to the sleeplessness.  There may be a few ways to get additional sleep, like sleeping when the baby sleeps or having a partner get up with the baby. However, sometimes it can be so hard to actually implement these strategies depending on your circumstances. Make sleep as much of a priority as you can.

2)      Lack of control. Many of the women that I work with in my London, Ontario counselling practice who struggle with anger eventually fess up to one common trait; they like to have control. Pre-baby, they had plans and expectations for their lives. Usually they were able to make things happen when they wanted them to.  Know a good way of messing that up? Have a baby.  A baby doesn’t care that you have a plan. Sometimes it feels like your baby is actually messing up with your plan on purpose. You’re looking forward to naptime because that is the one chance that you get to sit down and just veg. Your baby has napped at this specific time for weeks. It is the highlight of your day. Boom, your baby is awake, crying and in no mood for a nap today.  Hello, anger.

3)      Lack of support. After the initial wave of visitors quiets down, having a baby can be quite isolating. Your normal routine is turned upside down, making it difficult to see friends. Going on maternity leave usually means no longer seeing co-workers. It can be really lonely, which then can turn into frustration. Why didn’t anyone tell me that it was going to be like this? Why does my partner get to leave the house everyday and leave me here, all alone? We can start to feel isolated which can lead to anger.

4)      Lack of self-care. When you have had a baby, there may be both limited times and resources for things that you previously did as a way to re-energize.  You are busy feeding, changing, swaddling, burping, soothing and keeping this other human being alive. Who has time for a yoga class?

5)      Lack of your pre-baby identity. During my maternity leave, I would sometimes look in the mirror and be stunned at what I saw. Looking back at me, was this tired, disheveled woman, often wearing a black, spit-up encrusted hoodie.  It was hard to imagine that underneath all that still existed the wife, friend, psychologist and much better groomed version of myself.  This can be enraging. We work so hard to create a life that works for us, and having a baby can make it feel like it’s all been lost (or at least hidden really well).

While anger can be common and very understandable, we don’t want to be consumed by the anger. It can make us feel so guilty and bad about ourselves. It can steal the joy from a really amazing transition. Sometimes anger can be a symptom of postpartum depression. If you feel that the anger is there too often, or it feels really intense, or it’s impacting your ability to bond your with your baby, please reach out.  Let’s tackle the anger head on.

Know a New Mom? 10 Things You Can Do To Support Her

Supporting New Mom | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

Supporting New Mom | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

New moms, whether she is a first time mom or fourth time mom, whether she is single or has a partner, whether she has given birth or adopted, all have one thing in common; she needs help.  However, most new moms don’t ask for help.  She may feel that she doesn’t want to burden other people, or feels awkward about asking for specific types of help, or truly feels that she should be able to do it all on their own.  However, receiving both practical and emotional support, can make a huge difference for a new mom and her emotional well-being.  

Here are a few ways that may help the new mom in your life;

1.  Bring her a home cooked meal.  Most thoughts about feeding centre around feeding the baby; “Is the baby nursing enough?”, “How do I work this breastpump?”, “Should I mix my own formula, or splurge on ready-to-serve?”  Regardless of how mom is feeding her baby, she probably hasn’t given a lot of thought to feeding herself.  Bringing a home cooked meal (double the batch, so there’s left-overs!) can feel like love in a casserole dish.

2.  Offer to take the baby for a walk so that she can rest.  This is a relatively low key-way to take the baby (and siblings if applicable) without a lot of pre-planning.  Bundle baby up in a stroller and off you go.  This will give mom the rare chance to be home alone and do things like shower, rest, or just sit on the couch and savour the solitude.  You’ll also get some exercise, so it’s a win-win for everyone!

3.  Ask her how she is feeling.  How is she feeling physically?  How is she feeling emotionally?  Don’t make any assumptions, just let her share her experience.  Really listen to her.  Often new moms have the unrealistic expectation that they are supposed to bounce back to pre-baby condition in 6 weeks flat or that they are supposed to love every moment of this new experience.  Reassure her that it’s totally normal if she is not feeling that way.

4.  Share with her if you had struggles in motherhood.  New moms can feel very isolated and disconnected from others after the arrival of a baby.  They may struggle with baby blues and up to 20% will develop postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression.  By sharing your own experience, this can help a new mom feel that she is not alone.  If she has concerns about her mood, encourage her to talk to a health professional.  Feel free to print and share 10 Things to Know about Postpartum Depression or 10 Things to Know about Postpartum Anxiety  if she is experiencing worries or feelings of depression

5.  Send a housecleaner.  Who can argue with clean toilets, vacuumed floors, and made beds?

6.  Bring her groceries, including lots of quick and healthy snacks.  Going to the grocery store with a new baby can feeling like scaling Mount Everest in flip-flops.  Bring her lots of staples, like milk, bread, eggs and quick and easy snacks.

7.  Make a list of “mommy and me” classes available in the community.  Connecting with other new moms can have a huge impact on a mom’s well-being.  She may not have the time or energy to Google available classes in her community so a ready-made list can make the task of getting out and meeting other moms that much easier.

8.  Encourage her to trust her instincts.  The world is filled with advice about babies and how to raise them.  Unfortunately, that advice is often completely conflicting and contradictory.  Co-sleep.  Don’t co-sleep.  Swaddle.  Don’t swaddle.  Don’t let them sleep in a bouncy chair.  Let them sleep anywhere that they will actually sleep.  She may feel completely overwhelmed with the onslaught of advice.  Encourage her to do what feels right for her and her baby.  Let her know that it’s okay to try things out, change her mind, and that every baby is different.  She can do this!

9.  Fold the laundry.  She will look at those hundreds of beautifully folded washcloths, think of you and smile.

10.  Check in on her regularly.  The rush of visitors and well-wishers often dies down after the first few weeks.  Make sure to maintain contact on a regular basis.  Ask her if she prefers notice before dropping by or if it’s okay to pop in.  Keep asking how she is feeling.  Postpartum depression and anxiety can develop months after having a baby.  She may need additional support during various stages of this new transition for her (babies have a way of changing things up once we feel that we’ve finally figured it all out!).

Never underestimate the impact of providing support to a new mom. Take care of her so that can take care of her new child.

How to Survive Motherhood In One Piece

Burnout New Mom | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

Burnout New Mom | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

Okay, I admit it, the title of this blog is a bit melodramatic but my guess is that many moms have had the thought; “how am I going to survive motherhood in one piece?”  Being a parent is hard work, and it can feel that by the time your children are grown and out of the house, you may only be a watered down version of the fabulous woman you used to be.  This does not need to be the case!  

How can you manage when you’re in the mothering trenches?

  • Keep the judgement to a minimum. It is human nature to judge both ourselves and others, so it may be a lofty goal to eliminate all judgement, but let’s try to at least dial it down a tad.  We can be so hard on ourselves, especially when it comes to parenting.  There will be times when we make mistakes with our kids, there will be times when we’ll have no idea what we’re doing, and then there will be times when we absolutely lose it.  That’s okay, that’s what makes us human.  Show yourself some compassion when you’ve made a mistake.  Let’s also extend that same non-judgemental compassion to other moms.  We are all in this boat together and judging each other is not a great or helpful way to spending our time.  The next time you see a mom at the grocery store and her kid is freaking out, shoot her a knowing smile or even say “I’ve been there.”  You will make her day.
  • Spend more time with your own friends. Part of our job description as moms is to help our children thrive socially.  We take them to playdates, host playdates, get the scoop on their friendships at school and hope that they are forming healthy relationships.  In all of this, we may start neglecting our own friendships which can be so detrimental to our own well-being.  We need our friends, their support, the laughter and the sense of camaraderie.  I know, the last thing you want to do after the kids have gone to bed is to head out into the world to grab a drink with a girlfriend.  Trust me though, you need to, you will enjoy it when you get there, and your future self will thank you.
  • Invest time and effort into your romantic relationship. See that person sitting across from you at the dinner table?  Remember when you got butterflies just thinking about the next time that you would see them?   Remember how exciting the prospect of spending the rest of your life with them was?  You picked this person for a reason, and yes sometimes it can be hard to see them as anything other than a co-parent right now, but the person you love is still there.  Hang out with them.  Make sure to carve out time where you talk about things that have nothing to do with the kids.  Invest the effort now so that once the kids left you aren’t left looking at each other and thinking “now what?”
  • Integrate “mom” into your identity rather than making it your entire identity. We all have an “identity pie” with various slices making up the whole of the pie.  Take stock of what makes up your identity pie.  It’s perfectly understandable that the “mom” slice may be the biggest slice right now, but you want to ensure that you continue to incorporate other slices into the pie, whether it be your professional identity, your hobbies, your passion for fitness, your interests.
  • Self-care, self-care, self-care. I know, you’ve heard this one a million times and it can get a little old.  I hear from women all the time that they don’t have the time, or aren’t sure what to do, or that it doesn’t actually work all that well.  I think the most important thing about self-care is that you find something that you actually enjoy rather than just picking something from a list.  If you pick something that isn’t a good fit, it can actually backfire.  I know that many people benefit greatly from meditation and it can be a core part of someone’s self-care routine; however, for me, it is pure and utter torture.  It feels unnatural to me to be that still and quiet, so it’s not good self-care for me.  Find something that does work for you.
  • Know the signs that you are starting to feel burnt out. Many of us will push through feeling stressed and overwhelmed, because sometimes we just have no choice.  However, we will often ignore signs that maybe we are stretched too thin.  Many times women will end up in my office because they have ignored their own warning signs and now things feel pretty terrible; they feel emotionally and physically exhausted, their romantic relationship feels strained and unsatisfying, previous ways of coping are no longer working, things feels out of control and they barely recognize the woman in the mirror looking back at them.  While it’s definitely possible to emerge from this bleakness, it’s probably a better idea to not get there in the first place.  What are some of your signs that you are heading to Burnt Out Town, Population: You?  Do you feel snappy and irritated a lot of the time? Are you spending way too much time on the couch?  Do you feel that you’re just going through the motions without a feeling of connection or enjoyment to anything?

Once you know your signs, do something about it! Ignoring your stress warning signs is kind of like ignoring the rotting lettuce in your vegetable drawer.  Yes, you really don’t want to do it now, but leave it long enough and it will become a liquefied, stinky mess  (the lettuce, not you ;).  Figure out what will bring your stress levels down to a more manageable levels; getting together with friends, watching a silly movie, getting a pedicure.  Or maybe it’s a sign that more significant changes need to made.  Maybe home responsibilities need to be reorganized.  Maybe you need to make some changes to your schedule.  Maybe you need some quality time just hanging out with your kids.  Find what works for you.

There will always be moments in your parenting journey that will make you want to crawl into bed, pull the covers over your head and not come out for a week.  That’s okay, that’s part of the gig.  However, you can do this, and even thrive while doing so!  Hop over to our Facebook page ( for Motherhood March, for more articles, discussions and information about being a mom and our emotional health.

Dear New Mom

New Mom | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

New Mom | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

Dear New Mom,

First off, you are amazing.  You have invited another human being into your life probably without much consideration for your own comfort or the changes to your life this new person will bring.  You may be feeling a bit overwhelmed with all of the changes that are happening in your life, and that’s okay; it is overwhelming!  Here are a few points to keep in mind when transitioning to this new phase in your life.

Get ready for intense highs and lows.  You have probably seen those photos of the serene mother, holding her peacefully sleeping child, and she looks well rested and fabulous.  Those moments may happen; enjoy and savour them.  There will also be moments where you are pacing the hallways, holding your screaming child at 3:00 a.m., and you can’t even remember the last time you showered.  Motherhood is not for the faint of heart.  You will go from the depths of despair to pure bliss, and that is totally normal.  It’s exhausting, confusing and probably not what you were expecting, but normal.

Start building your village.  I know that the saying goes “it takes a village to raise a child” but I think it’s more accurate to say that it takes a village to support a new mom.  Start finding members of your village at a stroller fit class, at the park in your neighbourhood, amongst old friends that you have lost contact with but are now in similar life phases.  It may feel a little awkward and uncomfortable to put yourself out there, but it will be worth it.

Ask for help.  This one can be a hard one, especially if you’ve been used to being pretty self-sufficient up until this point.  However, this is a new frontier and help is no longer optional.  It is mandatory for your well-being.  If you’re not sure what you even need help with, check out this list.  Feel free to make numerous copies, highlight what appeals to you, and distribute among your family and friends. People want to help, but may be at a loss at what to do specifically for you.

Grieve your old life.  You have just said good-bye to a version of your life that did not include another human being that needs you for almost everything at this point.  Gone are the days when you can just hop in the car and run an errand without planning and forethought.  You need to consider feeding times, naps, and without fail, your child will poop the minute you strap them into the car seat.  It is totally normal to long for easier times.  It’s okay to feel sad that your social outings now begin at 9:00 a.m rather than 9:00 p.m.  It doesn’t mean that you don’t love your child, it just means that you’re a normal human being.

Accept that mistakes are part of the process.  Remember when you were first starting to drive?  Remember when you first pressed on the gas pedal too hard, lurching you and your terrified instructor so hard that you thought you had whiplash?  Well, there’s lots of those moments in motherhood.  You can read tons of books, talk to other mothers, and have all sorts of expectations about the type of parent that you will be, but there will be blunders along the way.  These mistakes will help you learn, they will shape the type of parent you will be.  Plus, they are great resilience building exercises for your child!

Be cautious in taking advice.  Most people are well intentioned, and do genuinely want to help you.  However, they don’t necessarily know what works for you and your child.  There is so much contradictory information out there and it can be really hard to make sense of it all.  Sometimes you won’t be able to make sense of any of it.  Sometimes you will need to trust yourself and fly by the seat of your pants.  Sometimes you will need to turn to others for help and advice.  Choose those people wisely, and feel free to revise that list if it’s not working for you.

Spend some time with your pre-mom self.  Just because you have a child does not mean that you have lost every other part of your identity.  Those parts may get a bit neglected, but they are still there.  Remember the things that you felt passionate about and enjoyed doing.  Even if you can no longer immerse yourself in those things right, keep the flames stoked.   “Mom” will need to be integrated into your identity, but it does not have to be your entire identity.

Lastly, new mom, I hope that you show yourself compassion and patience.  This is one of the biggest, if not the biggest, transitions in life.  There will be moments where you will feel overwhelmed, unhappy, exhausted, and utterly defeated.  There will also be moments where you feel blissful, grateful, and totally enthralled with the new person in your life and your new role.  All of these experiences are part of the package.  Don't beat yourself up when you feel less than thrilled.  Acknowledge that this is normal and you are normal for feeling it.


All of the moms that have gone before you and want to help and support you.

Know a new mom?  Please share this post with her.

Understanding The NICU Experience: Tips for Parents and their Supports

Premature Baby | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

Premature Baby | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

Having a baby (or babies) that have been born premature or born with health issues that require a stay in a Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) turns an already overwhelming situation into a hugely overwhelming situation.  Rather than leaving the hospital with your brand new baby, you are thrust into a scary, overwhelming world of the NICU.  Babies are teeny, tiny, hooked up to all sorts of medical monitors and rather than snuggling your newborn in the comfort of your own home, you may be unable to even hold your own child for weeks on end.  Good days can quickly turn to awful ones.  You quickly learn foreign medical lingo that you never, ever wanted to know.  The uncertainty is overwhelming.  Not shockingly, this can put parents through the emotional wringer.   Here are some tips for parents who are experiencing the intense ups and downs of the NICU and tips for their friends and family in how to best support them.

If you have a baby in the NICU:

  • Be gentle with yourself.  This is a very stressful time for you and it’s completely understandable to feel overwhelmed, anxious, sad, and completely shell-shocked by this experience.  This will likely be one of the most emotionally exhausting experiences of your life.  Don’t judge or criticize yourself for how you are reacting.
  • Practice as much self-care as possible.  Try to get some good sleep (which can be a challenge for moms who are pumping breast milk every 3-4 hours).   Try to eat regular meals.  Go on short walks.  As hard as it may be to leave the hospital, breaks can be so important for your well-being.
  • Right now you are in survival mode.  This is not the time to start new projects, keep up with your social obligations or take on any additional responsibilities.
  • Ask for specific help from your family and friends.  They likely want to help and support but may be at a loss as to what will be helpful.  Ask for meals, rides to the hospital, babysitting for older siblings, help with specific household chores like cutting the grass.  People are much more likely to spring into action when they have a specific task (trust me, people want to help!).
  • Try to connect with other parents in the NICU.  Having a support system that knows exactly what you are going through can be beneficial.  You may also get a lot of valuable information from parents who are a bit further ahead of you in their own journey.
  • Feel free to ask the NICU staff lots of questions about your baby and their care.  One of the worst parts of the NICU experience is feeling like an outsider in the care of your own child.  Ask how you can be involved in caring for your child whether it’s changing their diaper, bathing them, or doing kangaroo care.
  • Prepare yourself for the long road ahead after discharge.  Your child may need to be followed up very closely for the first few years of their life.  They may have long term health effects that need attention.  Even if there are no long-term physical effects for your child, there may be long-term emotional effects for you.  Parents of children who have had NICU stay can develop symptoms of anxiety, depression and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Counselling may be beneficial if you find that you continue to be emotionally overwhelmed.

If someone you love has a baby in the NICU:

  • Congratulate the parents on the birth of their child.  While the circumstances may not be ideal and this is a very scary time for the parents, they have just welcomed a new member of their family.  This simple act can help normalize a very stressful situation.
  • General offers of help will likely go unanswered.  It may be difficult for the parents to ask for help, so offer to do specific tasks.  Feel free to read Know a New Mom? 10 Things You Can Do To Support Her for ideas on how to support the new parents.
  • Don’t bombard the parents with questions.  While it is very understandable that you are concerned, it can feel overwhelming to parents.  Allow them to share information at the speed and in the mode that they are most comfortable with.  Most importantly, just give them an opportunity to be listened to.  Ask how they are doing.
  • If you even have the slightest hint of a cold, stay away from the NICU.  Seriously, even a tickle in your throat, stay home.  All the parents of the babes in the NICU will thank you.
  • When baby is discharged from the hospital, check in with the parents if they are up for visitors.  Wash your hands when you get there as premature or medically compromised babies can be more susceptible to illness, particularly around cold and flu season.  The parents may feel awkward in asking you to wash up.
  • Ask how the parents are doing.  Significant life stressors, such as a premature or sick child, can be a risk factor for postpartum depression, postpartum anxiety, and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder.  Keep an eye out on both mom and dad.  Emotional symptoms may start to develop months after discharge, so keep checking in.

A NICU stay can be an incredibly traumatic event for parents, so they are in high need of support and self-care.  Don’t be shy to ask or offer help during this highly stressful time.

Is This Baby Blues or Something More?

Up to 80% of women experience the “baby blues” which is considered a normal reaction following birth.  The baby blues can include feeling weepy, overwhelmed, feeling emotionally up and down, forgetful and stressed.  I distinctly remember crying into my Cheerios three days post birth and thinking “hmm, so this is what the baby blues feel like.”  While this experience is definitely not fun, it is relatively short-lived and should resolve within two- three weeks.  The baby blues may be triggered by the hormonal changes brought on by birth, recovering from birth, and the realization that your life has changed in a major way!  It is very natural to feel overwhelmed during a huge life transition, even if it is considered a happy event.

While the baby blues are considered common for most women, there can be more significant mood changes for others.  These changes can include depression, anxiety, obsessive compulsive disorder and in very rare cases, psychosis.  While we typically hear of these mood changes happening after birth, in the postpartum period, it is also normal to begin experiencing some of these changes even during pregnancy.  How do you determine if your experience is the typical baby blues or something more significant?

Two factors can help determine whether your experience is baby blues or something more significant: duration and severity.  If your mood changes began in pregnancy, or if they last longer than 2-3 weeks post-birth, there may be something more going on.  Severity of symptoms is also very important to consider.  If your mood symptoms are interfering with your ability to function, bond with your child and you have limited relief from these symptoms, this may also be an indication that it is not just baby blues.  If you are experiencing significant mood symptoms, know that this is quite common and there are treatment options.  Please let a healthcare provider know that you are experiencing these symptoms, including your OB, midwife, family physician, public health nurse or psychologist.  It’s also important to know that these symptoms can appear up to 12 months from birth, so even if you feel okay at your 6 week follow-up, these symptoms can still develop.

While having a baby can be a joy, this life transition can create a multitude of feelings.  Whether this is your first baby or your fourth, the addition of a child is a big transition.  While you are tasked with the responsibility of taking care of another human being, you also need to be taken care of.  If you find that you are struggling, please reach out.

Can You "Baby-Proof" Your Relationship?

Relationships | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

Relationships | Agnes Wainman | London Psychological Services

Having a baby is one of the biggest transitions that a relationship ever experiences.  Couples will often identify the birth of a child as the time period when their relationship changed, and usually not for the better.  Couples spend less time together, they are exhausted (and maybe a wee more irritable than usual), their focus is on the baby rather than each other, and it feels like everything has changed.  Research has shown that overall relationship satisfaction significantly drops following the birth of a child.  Most couples are not prepared for these significant changes (we really should start doing a better job at preparing couples!) and it can be very stressful when your relationship starts to feel different at such a critical time.  Is it possible to “baby-proof” your relationship?

The short answer is a resounding NO.  There is no way to avoid that your relationship will change after having a child.  Your lives will have fundamentally changed; you are now responsible for the care and raising of another human being.  Remember in your childfree days when a weekend stretched out in front of you, full of possibility, fun and free time? That doesn’t happen anymore.  Your new bundle of joy does not care that it is Saturday; s/he will still be up at 5:00 a.m and need to be fed, changed, put down for a nap, repeat.  Those long romantic dinners?  Those are now replaced by scrambling last minute to figure out what to feed yourselves (the pizza delivery man is likely the only reason my husband and I didn’t starve to death during the newborn period).  Things will change, they will be more difficult, and there is no way around it; a baby will change your relationship.

However, despite these changes, you can prepare yourselves and your relationship to better cope with these changes.  Firstly, you need to dramatically adjust your expectations about how the new addition will affect your relationship.  Of course, there is no way to fully understand the changes that are heading your way unless you’ve experienced it before, but having a general idea that things will change is a good idea.  We tend to better cope with things when we have some expectations that things will happen.  We don’t tend to do well with surprises.  If you have a baby on the way, ask friends (the genuine, won’t sugar-coat things type of friends) how a baby affected their relationship.  If you already have a child, adjust your expectations based on things that have already happened.  If you and your partner tend to pass out in an exhausted heap everyday at 8:00 p.m., it is probably unrealistic to expect that a late night out is the answer to spending time together.  Acceptance of our current set of circumstances can be hugely helpful in coping with transitions (it won’t be like this forever!).

In addition to setting realistic expectations, having a regular stream of communication between partners can greatly help in protecting your relationship.  Talking about your own experiences, sharing your feelings (even if they aren't pretty), and trying to understand your partner’s experience can help you cope with the changes and actually deepen the connection with your partner.  Talking doesn't have to be focused on resolving an issue, it can just be a way to connect and feel like you’re both on the same team (a very tired, overwhelmed and not at its best team, but a team nonetheless!).   While there is no doubt that the addition of a child will change your relationship, it is possible that this change can be a positive one.