Baby's First Year · Emotional Health · Parenting · Pregnancy

Express yourself: Better communication after baby

Young woman looking upset. Partner sitting behind in background

After a baby, everything seems to be different; from sleeping patterns, to eating habits, and especially how communication happens. As a nurse who works with parents adjusting to life after baby, I’ve seen countless times how things can keep changing- the good and the not so good.

Understanding yourself and getting the support that you need in this new world of parenting can be stressful. There is so much to learn and discover as a new parent, and it can sometimes be difficult to know what support you may need, or how to ask for it.

Lots of well-meaning people may offer you advice on what they think is necessary, but that can quickly get to be overwhelming! Asking for what it is that YOU need directly is usually the most helpful.

Here are some communication strategies you can try with friends and family:

  • Take some time to think about what you want to say – it can be helpful to write down some points ahead of time.
  • Remember to breathe! If you are feeling angry, hurt, or upset, it can be hard to communicate effectively. Try breathing in deeply through your nose for four seconds, pausing, and then breathing out through pursed lips for eight seconds. Repeat these steps a few times.
  • If you are feeling angry or upset with your partner or another family member, try expressing your feelings by using an ‘I’ statement when stating how you feel. An example might be, “I feel hurt when I am left to clean up after dinner alone”.
  • If it is a difficult conversation or situation, try asking for what you need in a way that is sensitive to the other person, too. Start by recognizing what the other person may be feeling, and letting them know that you understand. Then, make your request. For example, “I know that you are feeling tired after work; however, it would be very helpful to me if you watch the children while I take a shower”.

It can also be helpful to seek some outside emotional support, such as through a support group like Toronto Public Health’s Perinatal Adjustment Program.

Are you feeling down, depressed, or hopeless? Needing some more support?

Toronto Public Health nurses are here for you. Contact Toronto Public Health at 416-338-7600 or through e-chat.

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