You are never fully ready for the arrival of a baby and even less prepared for the impact that this will have on your marriage…

With all the baby- and parenting advice out there, people rarely talk about what happens in (and, to) a marriage once a baby arrives. Sure, making the leap from ‘you and me’ to ‘baby makes three’ is special and exciting – but it’s also, quite frankly, exhausting.

Your marriage before baby is built on double incomes, a free schedule and the only sleepless nights you have are by choice. Once your little milk monster arrives, that double income usually takes a knock, your free schedule goes flying out the window and sleepless nights? Well, those are the new normal – and NOT by choice. The little sleep you do get is in the spare (or toddler’s) bedroom – or with a newborn wedged between you and your partner.

Not very romantic, but not uncommon says Meg Faure, co-author of the Baby Sense series.

“It is very common to have mom and dad sleep in different rooms, when baby arrives, especially if there is a needy toddler in the mix” advises Meg.

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“Mom may end up sleeping in the newborn’s room and dad with the toddler. This is clearly not ideal for the marriage and can create high levels of stress, with two fatigued parents who don’t have the extra resources to make their partner feel special too,” Meg warns.

The thing is, whether it’s your first or second rodeo, you are never fully ready for the arrival of a new baby and even less prepared for the impact that this will have on your marriage. It will take effort and energy to make it work between you and your partner – and that’s exactly what you have the least of right now.

But take heart, it can be done. I always say, that since the arrival of my children, my marriage has seen some of its highest highs and lowest lows. It just depends which side of the scale we hang out on.

Meg provides two key pieces of advice to keep in perspective:

Baby days do pass

“With many years of hindsight, I can tell you that the newborn pressure of musical beds passes in a flash. It is not forever that a baby and toddler are so demanding” comments Meg.

“It is important that you meet your baby’s needs and sometimes that may mean creative parenting and bed swapping,” she assures. “If it is contributing a lot of stress to your family unit, remember that it does not have to be that way. Most babies can happily sleep alone in their own room from early on. It is not in any way damaging for your baby and in fact can result in better sleep for all” she advises.

“Ultimately, however, the decision is a personal one”.

The primary relationship in the home is the marriage relationship

“Whether you choose to co-sleep or not, your marriage is something that needs attention, even in the early days,” Meg warns.

“Prioritise time together, prioritise an evening cuddle (even when you are tired) and prioritise listening to your partner’s feelings on the ‘family bed’,” Meg continues. “Three years down the line, the early demanding days will be settling but your marriage has to weather that storm and you need to pay attention to it,” she cautions.

“At the end of the day, parenting together for life is the best thing you can do for your little one, and that takes work,” Meg concludes.

Good to know: Meg Faure will be speaking at The Baby Show & #MeetUp at Kyalami International Convention Centre, September 28 to 30. More info babyshow.co.za