This article was written in partnership with Real.
Having a baby is amazing and joyous. It’s also really stressful at times and can wreak havoc on even the sturdiest of relationships. Between sleepless nights, fluctuating hormones, and the sudden arrival of a living, breathing entity, both partners might suddenly feel a myriad of feelings that were never there before. And guess what? It’s OK.
In an effort to help your relationship thrive – or hey, maybe just survive – the fourth trimester, we tapped Dr. Rachel Hoffman, PhD, LCSW and chief clinical officer at Real – a mental health company providing on-demand, interactive therapy membership programs designed to help all of us navigate life with a bigger set of tools in our toolbox. Real is building a new therapy model, rooted in health equity, affordability, and a true brand evolution, ensuring we all engage with preventative care and feel proud doing so.
Below, Dr. Hoffman outlines five tips that are critical in supporting your relationship during the fourth trimester.
Why is it important to boost your relationship in the fourth trimester?
Emotions are high for both partners in the fourth trimester. Not only is there a new human to take care of, but there is also extreme exhaustion paired with little alone time. It can make the relationship seem strained. It is during this time that it is most important to lean on the relationship for support.
What might come up for people in the fourth trimester?
Due to exhaustion and raging hormones, partners might find themselves becoming more agitated and frustrated. This might lead to little tiffs and arguments. It might become increasingly hard to state your needs to one another, because the focus becomes entirely on the baby.
What are some tips all people can use to boost their relationship during this time?
Tip 1: Affirm one another on a daily basis. Insecurities may arise in both parents so hearing from the other that you are doing a good job can go a long way.
Tip 2: Make time for physical touch. Hugging and cuddling can promote oxytocin, which can reignite a feeling of intimacy and bonding. Even while you are holding a baby, you can find ways to sit near and touch one another.
Tip 3: Get outside. It can be very easy to go days without leaving your home. When you are cramped indoors, tensions can get high. Try to challenge yourselves to take short walks around the block. This can help calm the nervous system.
Tip 4: Laugh. The fourth trimester can feel wild! There will be many moments where things feel out of control. Try your best to laugh about it, instead of judging yourselves. Laughing together can be a great way to maintain intimacy and feel a sense of camaraderie in the relationship.
Tip 5: Play music. Not only can music be helpful in learning development, but can help soften the mood in the home. Play your favorite songs, dance around with your baby, and try to enjoy one another.