Pregnancy and parenthood can be both exciting and nerve-racking. We hear stories of incontinence, baby blues, sexless marriages, and couples living as roommates after having a baby – as if these experiences are normal and inevitable. As both a sex educator and a couple therapist working with clients at every stage of family planning and parenting, I want you to know that it does not have to be this way!
The experiences of physical changes, postpartum depression, and decreased marital satisfaction may be common in parenthood, but we don’t have to accept them as normal or healthy. There is significant research showing how medical and therapeutic interventions can help new parents live healthy, balanced, and satisfied lives.
If you or your partner are pregnant or have recently become parents, here are three things to consider:
- Your health and happiness matter. In a society with little support for birthing partners after the 6-week checkup, it can be hard to feel like your well-being are important. It is – physically, mentally, emotionally, and relationally. Although it may be difficult to find the time and energy with a newborn, even taking a little time for self-care can make a big difference to your happiness.
- There is no timeline for recovery. I’ve heard from many birthing parents that they experience pressure from societal norms or their partners to return to “life-as-usual”—including having sex again—after six weeks. It’s difficult to ignore this pressure, but know that there is no “normal” timeline when it comes to recovering from childbirth. Try to give yourself grace to move forward at a pace that feels right for you.
- You do not have to pee yourself every time you sneeze for the rest of your life. Your mom and sister and best friend and coworker may say that it’s normal and that they’ve all learned to live with it, but you don’t have to! There are treatments available to help your body heal.
Believing and acting on these three tips can be difficult, and you don’t have to do it alone. Therapy can be a helpful resource in finding your way through all the changes parenthood brings individually and in a relationship. As a sex educator and couple therapist, I offer a safe space for exploring all of the changes and emotions that come with parenthood so that you can find what makes you feel healthy and happy. If you are interested in connecting with me, check out my bio.
Having a healthy pregnancy, childbirth and postpartum takes work, especially when new parents have to find and fight for proper care. We can no longer accept what is common or what we think is normal. Healthcare providers need to put more emphasis on healthy outcomes for baby AND parents.