Valentine’s Day is approaching quickly, but if you’re first-time parents with a newborn baby romance is probably the last thing on your mind! Most likely your thoughts go something along the lines of feed, poop, sleep…repeat! While having a newborn baby can be one reason that romance is lost in a relationship, there can also be other factors, for example, postnatal depression. Having a newborn baby, and all that comes with that new experience, doesn’t mean that the romantic side of your relationship has to suffer! That’s why Valentine’s Day will give you the perfect excuse to reignite the romance in your relationship, whether that’s through gifts. experiences or simply spending quality time together.
While Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate romance, love and relationships, it often puts a lot of pressure on both men and women. There’s pressure to plan the perfect date, purchase the perfect gift (which, according to every shiny catalogue is anything from an extremely expensive diamond necklace to a fridge…!) and be the perfect partner. It can all get extremely overwhelming! For first-time parents, Valentine’s Day can be particularly tricky. Sure, your newborn is a gorgeous gift, but it’s not exactly romantic. As first-time parents you’re trying to navigate this new, exciting life—the sleepless nights and the poo explosions—all without an instruction manual. It is easy to become so engrossed in being parents that you forget that you are also a couple and that your relationship and romance is important. Lack of sleep and looking after a newborn baby 24/7 can quickly take its toll. You are both tired and tiredness can lead to irritability which can lead to arguments and resentment—certainly no recipe for romance this Valentine’s Day!
Undoubtedly your gorgeous newborn baby can be a distraction from romance on Valentine’s Day, but often there can be other contributing factors. Often in the early days a lot of pressure falls on the mother when it comes to the baby and, unfortunately, approximately 1 in 7/10 new mums, develop postnatal depression (PND). PND can develop within the first few days, and anywhere within the first twelve months, after having a baby. It can start slowly or suddenly and can range from a mild feeling of sadness to a paralyzing depression. While the exact causes of PND are not known, it is most likely that the enormous physical, emotional and social changes involved with becoming a parent are major contributors.
It’s important to note that, after having a baby, up to 80% of women may develop what is known as the ‘baby blues’. This usually surfaces three to ten days after giving birth and passes within a day or two—it is very different to postnatal depression. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) can also often be confused with postnatal depression. PTSD can affect women who have had an unexpectedly difficult or traumatic childbirth and sufferers often experience flashbacks. A woman with PND tends to withdraw from everyone, including her baby. Other symptoms of postnatal depression include negative thoughts, low self-esteem and confidence, difficulty sleeping or a change in sleep patterns, anxiety and panic attacks, loss of appetite and difficulty concentrating.
Undoubtedly, PND can put an enormous strain on relationships and, interestingly, new dads can also develop PND, particularly if their partner is suffering. New dads can feel neglected and useless when the baby arrives, however partners play a vital role in PND recovery. If you are the partner of someone experiencing PND it is important for you to encourage communication and conversation. Don’t be afraid to ask family and friends for help. As a couple you can research information together and seek professional help as required—there are plenty of people who can assist including doctors, counsellors, hospitals and maternal and child health nurses. The important thing to remember is that postnatal depression, and its accompanying symptoms, will not last forever.
Dealing with postnatal depression or the challenges of a new family member can be tough, however Valentine’s Day provides a welcome distraction and a chance to remember the romantic side of your relationship. Often there’s no need for an extravagant romantic gifts, rather a small gesture or simply time spent together can be the most meaningful. Below are a few ideas to keep the love alive and make this Valentine’s Day extra special for first-time parents…
Run her a bath, light some candles and allow her an hour to relax alone.
Offer her a weekend lie in…sleep is the greatest gift when you have a newborn baby!
During the day, when you’re at work, send her a message so she knows you are thinking of her.
Jewellery or flowers are always a failsafe if you would like to get your loved one a gift.
Or maybe even a keepsake, to remind each other of the wonderful bundle of joy that they brought into the world together.
Appreciate all his efforts to help with the baby—a simple ‘thank-you’ can go a long way.
Send him a message while he’s at work telling him you love him…attach a cute picture of you and the baby.
Encourage him when it comes to the baby, don’t criticize.
Treat him to a massage.
It is important to try and spend time together as a couple, and Valentine’s Day is the perfect excuse. If you can, ask a family member or friend to look after the baby for a night and book a hotel room. If that’s not possible, put your newborn to bed together and spend some time resting together watching a movie.
Don’t stress about the housework, it can wait! Romance is so important in a relationship, even when there’s a newborn baby on the scene and new challenges arise.
Valentine’s Day is the perfect opportunity to remind each other of the reasons why you fell in love and decided to bring a beautiful baby into the world.