Dads, have you felt that your wife changed after having your baby? You’re not imagining it. But here are some things you need to know to navigate this new chapter in your relationship.
What can you read in this article?
- The changes a new mother goes through
- 7 things men need to know after their wife becomes “Mom”
- What to do if you’re feeling neglected by your wife after having the baby
“My wife has changed after having our baby,” this is one line that most men say about their wives when they are in the period of postpartum or after their baby is born.
Well, guess what? It’s true. Our spouses change after having a child. And it’s not just her. You probably have changed too. You may not notice, but you’re now feeling more responsible for someone who depends on you. Fatherhood does that to men.
But for now, let’s just focus on the new mom – your wife.
Yes, she probably has changed. From being the fun-loving, spontaneous girl you fell in love with, to the strict mom who needs to know every single detail about your day is planned and coordinated. Sometimes, you may be asking yourself, “Who is she?”
You may also be feeling a tad bit neglected by her the past few days. But it’s not really about you, so try not to take it personally. It’s just the fact that other than being your wife, she’s transitioning to being a mom, which is one, if not the hardest job in the world.
So, instead of feeling down, why don’t you try to see where she’s coming from?
7 things men need to know after their wife becomes a mom
Has your wife changed after having the baby? Here are some things she’s feeling that she’s not telling you but is good for you to know so you can understand her better and know how to be a better partner.
1. She feels ugly
Let’s face it. Your wife’s body has changed because of the pregnancy and giving birth. She may have put on a ton of weight, her belly was stretched to the limit (causing stretch marks), and now, milk is leaking on her breasts even when the baby is not nursing – she’s upset about it all and it’s doing a number on her self-esteem.
What can you do? Always find time to praise her. But don’t patronize her by saying she looks pretty even when her shirt smells of your baby’s poop. We can always tell when you’re faking it, so try to be sincere when you tell her she’s as beautiful as the child she’s created with you, and assure her that her body will go back to how it was, in time.
Take over some of her duties and let her have a few minutes to shower, go for a run, or do yoga so she can take her self-esteem back. Finally, never forget to remind her that you love her just as much, or even more.
2. She is terrified
This parenting thing is all so new to her. She feels like she’s constantly being put to the test. She’s also evaluating herself. People are throwing opinions at her, and this can be overwhelming.
Not to mention, this phase is when a new mother is prone to postpartum depression or anxiety. The change in hormones and her new responsibilities may cause her to doubt herself, or feel inadequate. The baby blues might cause her to miss her old life and her anxiety may even lead her to think of too many scenarios in her head and it’s scary, even for her.
So try to be the support she needs. Let her know you’re always on her side, cheer her on, help her out and remind her that you guys are a team. Reassure her that you believe in her capabilities and that she’s the best mother you could have picked for your kid.
If it gets too intense and she cannot handle her emotions anymore, you can always set an appointment for her to see a psychologist to help her sort her feelings out.
3. She cannot get angry with the baby
She’s aware that the reason for her lack of sleep, her stress, her mood swings, is her baby. But he’s just a baby, and she knows it. So it makes her feel guilty too for blaming your newborn, which she loves with all her heart. Watching your wife with your new baby will let you experience firsthand how being a parent makes you feel so many things at the same time.
A friendly reminder though – sometimes, women with postpartum depression may do things that can hurt themselves or the baby, so keep a lookout for that.
When she’s feeling the burden of this new role, be a dear and take over. Watch the baby so she can de-stress and pamper herself for an hour or two.
REAL STORIES: “Dads, you can’t afford a stay-at-home wife.”
Coleen Garcia on postpartum anxiety: “No matter how much I try, I wasn’t doing good enough.”
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4. What sex?
After giving birth, your wife might not be interested in sex. Not for a while at least (come on, she just pushed a cannonball out of her lady parts!). And she’s not doing this just to spite you (because you didn’t wake up to change baby’s diapers the night before).
Being covered in spit-up all the time and changing dirty diapers on rotation doesn’t necessarily put someone in the mood. And if she’s breastfeeding, she may experience vaginal dryness which means her desire is probably sparse.
Remember, when it comes to postpartum sex, it’s okay to take it slow. First of all, your wife needs a go signal from her OB-gynecologist is if it’s all clear down there. Then, of course, you have to check in with your wife if she’s ready to have sex again.
While she may not be ready to do the deed, making out may interest her. So caress her, hug her, kiss her and try to connect with her intimately. This may also put your feeling of being neglected by your wife to rest. But give her time to be ready to make love again.
5. She would like you to thank her more frequently
For having this child, and for looking after him 24/7. For putting her life on hold, and attending to every cry, moan, diaper change, feed… okay, you get the gist. While everything your wife does is out of love, it wouldn’t hurt to know that you appreciate her and recognize her efforts.
Tell her how much you appreciate everything she is doing for your new addition in to the family. A simple gesture like saying ‘Without you, I wouldn’t be able to do this’, or ‘Thank you for being a part of our lives’ will get you far.
6. She needs you to ask her if she needs anything
The truth about marriage after having a baby is that the talk can get so transactional. Since you’re both operating on low sleep, between taking turns watching the baby and all the other chores at home, sometimes all you can say to each other are “Have you fed the baby yet?” or “Have you changed his diaper yet?”
When you’re caring for a demanding newborn, sometimes you don’t have the time to work on other things, such as your relationship with your spouse. But if you’re feeling neglected or disconnected from your wife, you need to take the time to strengthen your relationship to make it past this new chapter in your lives.
“Relationships thrive on time spent together, holding that other person in your mind and connecting and listening to them,” says Tracy Ross, a couples and family therapist in New York.
“You have to make it a priority — not the first 6 weeks of baby’s life — but after that you have to make time for your partner, even if it’s small amounts of time to check in with each other and not talk about the child,” she added.
Even on busy days, take a few minutes off your busy schedule to ask the mother of your child if she’s okay. Just to make her feel that you care, and want to be involved in this change as much as she has to be. Ask her if she needs anything and step up to the plate if she does.
Say ‘Honey, what would you like me to do?’ or ‘Do you need anything? I am here to help.’
7. She loves the father of her child
But in spite of the major changes you’re both going through, the fact is that your wife still sees you. You’re not invisible to her.
Remember that she loves seeing you as a dad, and she enjoys having the front row seat to watching you become a better man as you protect your little one.
She loves to hear you say how much this little addition to your life is exciting you. Every time you connect with your newborn, you are tugging at her heartstrings as well.
You may not feel it all the time, but your wife is still attracted to you, and she wants to reciprocate the love you’re giving her. So why don’t you schedule some alone time together? Ask your in-laws or people your wife trusts to take care of the baby and go on a date for a couple of hours.
“We know from research that a relationship that’s not given attention will get worse,” says Ross.
“If you do nothing, the relationship will deteriorate — you’ll be co-parents arguing about tasks. You have to put work into the relationship for it to stay the same, and work even harder to improve it,” she added.
Maybe your wife changed after having the baby. But you know that deep inside, she’s still the same thoughtful, loving person that you fell in love with. And having a new little person in your life just brings out the best in her and it’s also helping you get to know her more.
So connect with your wife as much as you can. Hold her hand and tell her, “We’re in this together.” You’ll come out as a stronger couple than ever.
Additional information by Camille Eusebio