The transition to parenting is often a difficult time during which couples experience many challenges. Research shows that half of all relationships break up within the first seven years and that most of these were after the couple became parents for the first time. Some parents experience this drop after the second child due to the added complexity and additional stress in the home. Research from the Gottman Institute shows that 67% of couples are less satisfied after the arrival of the first child. The research also showed what the other 33% are doing to sustain and increase satisfaction during the childbearing transition which includes pregnancy and the first year of baby’s life.
Many changes take place in the first months after baby arrives—mood changes like ‘baby blues’ and postpartum depression, sleep deprivation and fatigue, changes in the sexual relationship, financial strain, and a host of others. When the results of these changes impact the couple’s relationship, it can often impact parenting and the quality of parent-infant interactions. The greatest gift a couple can give their child is a strong couple relationship.
Goals during this transition should include:
- Maintain the couple friendship
- Increase intimacy and affection
- Regulate conflict by reducing relationship hostility and strengthening communication
- Attain quality parental involvement for both parents
Genesis counselors can assist you during this transition by treating post-partum depression, building communication skills and conflict management, encouraging positive behaviors between partners and parents to children, and parent coaching.
- Bonus tip: Following the birth of your baby, enlist seven friends for seven days. The friend of the day is at your beck and call to assist, relieve, and support as creatively as you desire.
Please see postpartum depression for more about depression and “baby blues”. Also see anxiety, as there can be significant increase in anxiety after becoming a parent.
Tips to lighten the “baby blues” (from Bringing Baby Home: A Program for New Parents Experiencing the Transition to Parenthood, Couples Workbook; the Gottman Institute)
- Talk about the stress you are experiencing
- Allow your partner to help you
- Take time to rest and get adequate sleep
- Try relaxation or meditation
- Receive massage from your partner daily
- Eat well (have good nutrition in your diet)
- Allow others to help you with your baby
Medical: Your women’s health or primary care physician
Mental Health: Counseling via licensed mental health provider such as LPC, LMFT, LCSW.
And Baby Makes Three: The Six-Step Plan for Preserving Marital Intimacy and Rekindling Romance After Baby Arrives. By John Gottman and Julie Schwartz Gottman
The Smart Stepfamily; The Smart Stepmom; The Smart Stepdad. By Ron Deal
Workshops, classes, support programs:
Bringing Baby Home workshops in your community or area health system
Healthy Families in your locality-classes on relationship and parenting. https://hampton.gov/3378/Healthy-Families https://www.nnva.gov/305/Healthy-Families
New Parent Support by each locality and for military out of Naval Medical Center Portsmouth
Family Focus. Hampton Roads. Sponsored by Bon Secours
CHKD. Children’s Hospital of the King’s Daughters
Compiled by Tracey R. Crawley, LMFT
Genesis Counseling Center Clinician
Bringing Baby Home Educator