Becoming a parent is rough. The truth is, what pregnancy does to your relationship can be as taxing as what it does to your body. In fact, pregnancy can be transformative and challenging for all of the personal relationships in your life, but certainly the one with your significant other is most poised to undergo the biggest change, and change on the most levels, and change in ways that might feel sad or confusing or upsetting. The days of going on dates to the movies or grabbing a bite at the end of the day or hitting a bar for a friend’s birthday are quickly replaced by 10 p.m. feedings, 2 a.m. feedings, 5 a.m. feedings, and, well... you get the point.
The ability to do as you please slows while you’re pregnant and comes to a screeching halt the minute the baby arrives on the scene. And for the most part, we’re all perfectly cool with this arrangement because our babies are damn cute and our mommy hormones are running wild and probably some other reasons involving the continuation of the species. But sometimes we miss our significant others (and our former selves), and the way things once were. These feelings are completely normal and valid, especially when you first begin the parenting journey.
Fortunately, there are ways to help strengthen your bond with your partner prior to life becoming a series of diaper changes and adorable naps. Here’s our favorite ways to keep the romance alive before your little one is born:
Go On As Many Dates As You Can
Dating becomes a lot trickier once there are three of you. Before having to seek out babysitters becomes your form of foreplay, do your best to take your S.O. out for a romantic dinner, an afternoon at the local book store, a trip to the museum, an evening of live music, a painting night, a basketball game, or whatever else floats your boat. If you’re a fan of schedules (or don’t think you’ll remember to make time for dates without Google Calendar bugging you about it), set a weekly time and day for your date nights. Do whatever it takes to make this very important time happen.
Take The Time To Discuss Non-Baby Things
It’s so, so easy to fall into the baby craze early. After all, having a baby together can be a beautiful, joyful experience. But before your life really does become mainly about the tiny creature you made (and even after, really), ask your partner about their day. Ask them how they’re doing and what they’re working on lately. Read the news and ask them how they feel about current events. Watch movies (or TV shows) together and then discuss what happened. Talk about your favorite records, or about the recent game between their favorite team and whoever else. Ask them about their past and learn new things about them. You can even make a game of it and promise not to discuss the baby for an hour per day (and whoever loses has to do something extra for the winner).
Hit The Road (Or Fly Away Together)
One of the best things my husband and I did at the start of my pregnancy with our son was take a trip out to California. I was only 2 months pregnant and a little concerned about taking a 5 hour flight and being far away from my OB/GYN, but I knew that if we didn’t go on the trip, we would totally regret it. It completely strengthened our marriage to get out of our comfort zones and explore new cities in the Bay area and the breath-taking beauty of Big Sur. Our son is nearly two now and we have yet to take so much as a weekend trip alone together (though we have taken a few small roadtrips with the sprout, which is also fun). Take advantage of the little time you have alone and book a vacation now. You have no idea what to expect once your baby is born so live it up.
Turn Up The Intimacy (And/Or Have A Lot Of Sex)
Sex as you know it changes forever the minute you have kids. And for many of us, it changes even beforehand. One of the single most challenging things of my pregnancy with my baby boy was the fact that I needed to be on “pelvic rest” my entire second and third trimester. That’s seven whole months where I was not only unable to have sex, but rather couldn’t have an orgasm in any way whatsoever. To say that I was edgy all those months is an understatement. Still, we found ways to be intimate and if I can do it, you certainly can. If you’re stuck on pelvic rest, give your partner at least a little attention now and again if you feel like it (if you feel like it only.) And if you can have sex from a medical standpoint, and you want to have sex, then please, by all means, why are you even reading this? Go do it now! And be creative about it. Try new positions, do it in a room in the house you never have, or find a freaking private place outdoors and do it there. Visit a sex shop together and buy some toys or outfits to try on. Watch a little porn together. Get a little (or a lot) wild. Learn new things about you (and your partner’s) body. Quickly, before it gets interrupted by a crying toddler who wants to snuggle between the two of you (man, our son is lucky he’s cute).
Show Your Partner You’re Thinking Of Them
The next time you’re at the store and you see that shirt your dude’s been eyeing or that book your wife loves, buy it for them. Order a pizza and make sure to add toppings your S.O. finds tasty. Write your spouse a sweet love note and sneak it in their briefcase or dashboard before they head to work. Send your partner flowers, just because. Do it up right on their birthday and on anniversaries. Create new reasons to celebrate (like the anniversary of your first roadtrip or make up a holiday like “Pregnant Couples Day”). Give your honey a massage (or schedule a couple’s massage like we did during my last trimester). You’ll both appreciate the hell out of it.
Make A List Of Post-Baby Vows
Couples should face the truth head on: Their relationship will change once the baby is born. But as a pre-emptive strike on the potential damage done to your once sex-crazed, starry-eyed relationship, make some promises to your partner you know you can keep. Plan a baby-free trip for sometime after the baby turns one. Vow to do something fun with your partner at least once a month. Better yet, vow to do your best to kiss your S.O. even during your most exhausted 3 a.m. bottle-and-diaper routine. Promise to tell your partner you love them at least once a day. Make promises and then keep them.