Pregnancy and baby

Relationships after having a baby

What can we do if we argue and fight?

Media last reviewed: 23/04/2012

Next review due: 23/04/2014

Parenting and relationships

Becoming a parent often puts a strain on relationships, regardless of what they were like before. Part of the problem is that you're tired and have so much less time to spend with your partner than you did before the baby arrived. It's a lot harder to go out together and enjoy the things you used to do. Your partner may feel left out and you may resent what you see as a lack of support.

But this time period when babies and children take up all your physical and emotional energy doesn't last forever. Make time for each other when you can. Do little things to make each other feel cared for and included.

Take time to listen to each other

However close you were before the baby was born, your partner can't read your mind. Both your lives are changing and you have to talk about it.

You and your partner need to tell each other what you want and what's bothering you if you're resentful, angry or upset.

  • Be honest about what you need. Do you need a hug or to feel understood?
  • Ask a friend or relative to babysit so you can have time together, even if it's just for a walk in the park.
  • Share the housework so you can have more time together.
  • Share the childcare duties, too.

It's important to talk about how you want to bring up your children. You may find that you don't agree on basic matters such as discipline and attitudes.

Find a way of dealing with these issues without disagreeing in front of your child. For information on coping with changing relationships when you first become parents, go to the Couple Connection website.

Get some extra help after having a baby

If you're having your first baby, you may feel very lonely and cut off from your old life. Your partner can't give you everything you used to get from work and friends. You need other people in your life too for support, friendship and a shoulder to cry on.

If you feel your relationship is in danger of breaking down, get help. Relate has local branches where you can talk to someone in confidence, either with your partner or alone. You don't have to be married to contact them. To find your local branch, look under Relate or Marriage Guidance in your phone book, or go to the Relate website.

Relationships with family and friends

Bringing a baby into your life changes your relationships with family and friends, whether you're part of a couple or single. Everyone's situation is different. For example, some mothers feel that their own mothers are taking over, whereas others resent the fact that their mothers don't help them more.

It's best to be clear about the kind of help you want, rather than going along with what's offered and feeling resentful. Your mother is also getting used to a completely new relationship with you. She won't know what to do for the best unless you tell her.

You may find that your old friends stop coming to see you or that they seem to expect you to drop everything and go out for the evening. This can be annoying, but explain to them how your life has changed. They may not understand the changes you're going through. Keep in touch and keep some space for them in your life. Friends can be more valuable than money when the going gets tough.

Domestic abuse

One in four women experiences domestic abuse at some point in their life. This may take the form of physical, sexual, emotional or psychological abuse.

Victims are likely to suffer repeated attacks before they ask for help. Thirty per cent of domestic abuse starts in pregnancy. Existing abuse may get worse during pregnancy or after the birth. Nobody has to put up with domestic abuse. It puts your health and that of your baby at risk, before and after birth.

If you're being abused, help is available. You can speak in confidence to your GP, midwife, health visitor or social worker, or call the confidential National Domestic Violence Helpline on 0808 2000 247 for information and support.

Witnessing domestic abuse can have a serious effect on children. Social workers can help you protect your child. If you wish, they can help you take steps to stop the abuse or find refuge.

Help with domestic abuse

If you or your children are in immediate danger, call 999. For information and support, contact:

Read more about abuse, domestic violence and sexual assault.

Page last reviewed: 07/01/2014

Next review due: 07/01/2016

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