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Natural Awakenings Milwaukee Magazine

Adjusting to Parenthood

Oct 01, 2023 12:00AM ● By Emily Aleksy

Photo by Yan Krukau for pexels 6209526

Becoming parents is an amazing step—but one that also can be unexpectedly tricky. While in one way it’s a happy time, it can be really stressful if both partners aren’t in agreement about how they will share the load of parenting. Even those not new to parenting should consider revisiting these topics with their partner or coparent. It’s never too late to work out a better balance so that each person feels that their needs have been considered.

Talk to each other. Seriously. For example, discuss each person’s expectations of the postpartum period, such as which parent will get up at night. Perhaps it’s both. Discuss who will do the feedings, diaper changes, doctor’s appointments, and shopping for supplies, such as diapers and clothing. Consider how to ensure that each partner will meet their individual needs: social, physical, mental health, sleep, nutrition, etc. Consider completing a postpartum plan together so that each parent knows what to expect and can refer back to it when needed.
Keep talking to each other. Create basic agreements about how responsibilities will be divided, and review them regularly. Even a simple “Hey I have a busy week, I don’t think I can do drop-off on Tuesday—can you help?” or “I thought we had agreed that we would split night-time wake-ups—can we talk about that?” can go a long way. Keeping those feelings of imbalance bottled up tends to lead to resentment. Consider having weekly check-ins about how each person is doing, and what’s on deck for the week, so that both parents are on the same page.

See parenting as a team effort in what just happens to be a really, really hard game. Both parents will probably feel like they’re doing 100 percent more work than before, and each one will see, feel and experience this time period their own way. Both perspectives are valid—they’re just different.

Ask for more help if needed. Family, friends and other providers like a doula, or even an individual or couples therapist, are all possible sources of help. Remember that sometimes calling in reinforcements is necessary.

Emily Aleksy, LCSW, PMH-C, is a therapist and owner of ERA Wellness, in Whitefish Bay. ERA Wellness specializes in therapy for perinatal mental health (pregnancy or postpartum), trauma therapy, OCD, and anxiety and stress, and offers both individual and couples therapy. For more information, call 414-301-3234 or visit