Date Night may be the furthest thing from the minds of a couple who are expecting, especially if this isn’t their first baby, but research shows that a healthy relationship is one of the best ways to prevent depression during and after pregnancy, according to a study of over 50,000 women in BMC Public Health. Conversely, expectant mothers who are in a strained relationship are more susceptible to anxiety and depression, which in turn can result in premature birth or a low-birth-weight baby and may be a harbinger for postpartum depression.
Fortunately, there are a lot of new parents can do to keep their intimate relationship healthy and thriving. Here are some of our favourite tips to keep the love light burning:
· Make Date Night a Priority. You don’t need to spend a lot (or even anything) to go on a Date Night with your significant other, but you do need to make it an absolute necessity on your weekly calendar. Pack a picnic, visit a local fair, go gallery hopping, watch a high school football game, have a potluck dinner with friends—all it takes is a commitment to schedule time to put one another first.
· Have a Ball. It should go without saying, but too many couples forego having fun. Work, bills and family responsibilities can make the good times seem like a distant memory. And putting all the pressure on Date Night for fun can make it seem like a chore. Instead, look for small opportunities to enjoy things together—put on your favourite music and dance, share a joke, dress up for dinner, split a sundae. Keeping the fun alive will keep your relationship healthy.
· Talk it Out. You don’t have to express every waking thought in order to communicate well, but make no mistake—good communication makes a difference. If that’s not your strong suit, there are plenty of support groups for new and expecting parents that can help you sharpen your skills. Knowing you’ve been heard and understood will go a long way when you have a very loud baby and very little sleep.
· Be Romantic. Being intimate can wax and wane during pregnancy, especially if you’re blessed with morning sickness in the first trimester and swollen ankles in the last one. But as long as you’re having a healthy pregnancy love can continue to rein, so take time for romance. And make sure your communication skills are good here, too. That will help immensely after your adorable little third wheel arrives.
· Go on a “Babymoon.” This term is fairly new, but the idea of one last romantic getaway before delivery is not. Check with your doctor to see what distance and method of transportation is advisable—then plan something that will pamper both of you. And remember, no one will blame you if you stay in and order room service.
Bottom line: Making a regular date with your partner, working on communication skills and keeping the fun and romance in your relationship has been proven to protect against anxiety and depression during pregnancy.