Your Relationship After the Baby has Arrived
Becoming a parent is like a dream come true, particularly if the baby is your first born. However, these happy emotions are also accompanied by the fear of losing your old life. Mothers worry about taking care of the baby, while fathers usually have financial considerations. If someone is comfortable with his/her routine, then resisting any major change is natural. The overall result of emotional changes and worries is a stressed marital relationship (Tai, 2014).
This article highlights possible emotional changes after becoming a parent, how these changes affect a relationship and what are the ways to avoid these changes.
Common Emotional Problems after Child Birth
Becoming a parent is entirely a new phase of life. Apart from the difference in opinion, there are a number of factors that can create stress between spouses. Here is a look at some of them:
According to a parenting guide published by the government of Australia in 2009, anxiety and mood swings are two of the biggest factors that give rise to complications in marital relationships after the birth of a child. The guide says that every woman in the world experiences mild to extreme levels of post-delivery anxiety. Around 8-10% of women experience extreme anxiety and need clinical attention.
2. Baby Blues
According to Pantley (2003)2, after the first week of the delivery, mothers go through baby blues. They might become emotionally sensitive, cry frequently and show frequent episodes of mood swings. Although baby blues go away after some time (approx 2-3 weeks after the delivery), cooperation and emotional support from their husband might help them recover the emotional trauma more quickly.
According to Hamaty (2011)3, time management and attachment problems worsen the emotional changes. It’s natural that the baby is more attached to mothers than fathers and needs 24/7 attention from mothers. Often husbands feel neglected after the birth of their first child. They become short-tempered, complain constantly and show rigid behavior. Hamaty, in the research, also highlighted the fact that attachment is considered as one of the biggest and most frequently encountered relationship stressors. It not only impacts the relationship, but also impacts the mental health of mothers who are already prone to post-delivery depression.
James eta al. (2009)4, in a research article, emphasized the fact that reluctance in adjusting to change also contributes to stressed and disturbed relationships after the child’s birth. The article focused on the series of changes that mothers and fathers have to deal with after the baby has arrived. One of the most intelligent ways of accepting this change is to understand the responsibilities of being a parent. Not only this, it is also important to cooperate with each other.
Postnatal depression is another factor that can potentially damage the marital relation after the birth of a child. Often misdiagnosed as chronic stress or bipolar depression, postnatal depression is probably one of the most common forms of depression. Women all across the world experience mild to moderate levels of postpartum depression soon after the delivery (Cohen et al., 2010). Cohen also highlighted in the report that women after giving birth become hypertensive, and inadequate attention or a changed marital relationship can cause them to suffer from postpartum depression. Another important factor pointed in this study that misdiagnosis and inadequate knowledge about this depressive disease further worsen the situation. It not only impacts the mental health of a woman, but also stresses her relationship with her husband. If not treated properly, postnatal depression can have grave consequences.
Ways to Support your Relationship
Castro (2012) suggested some ways to keep the marital relationship alive and cope with the negative emotional changes that can stress your marred life after the birth of your child:
Counseling- Most people underestimate the importance of counseling, but discussing problems with someone can really help overcomes the negative feelings. A counselor, as a neutral person, can understand the frame of reference of both parents and suggest ways to talk things out.
Cooperation- After becoming a parent, it is very important to increase the tolerance level. Cooperation and adjustment are key factor for keeping a relationship alive after becoming a parent.
Clinical Checkup- Castro also emphasizes the importance of regular clinical during first three months after the delivery. It helps in the timely diagnosis of any depressive or mental illness that can have long-term adverse affects on the mental health.
Therapies- Castro also highlighted the fact that in modern clinical psychiatry there are a number of therapies to help people cope with stress, negative emotions and depression.
1. Tai J. (2014). Your Relationship after Baby. Relationship Counselors’ Brisbane.
2. Pantley E. (2003). Gentle Baby Care and The No-Cry Sleep Solution.
3. James A., and Pleasants H. (2009). Relationship Stress After Having a Baby.
4. Cohen LS, Wang B, Nonacs R, et al. (2003). Treatment of mood disorders during pregnancy and postpartum. Psychiatry Clinic North Am .33(2):273-93.
5. Castro M. (2012. Now We are Three or Four or More! Relationship Survival!
Christie Hunter is registered clinical counselor in British Columbia and co-founder of Theravive. She is a certified management accountant. She has a masters of arts in counseling psychology from Liberty University with specialty in marriage and family and a post-graduate specialty in trauma resolution. In 2007 she started Theravive with her husband in order to help make mental health care easily attainable and nonthreatening. She has a passion for gifted children and their education. You can reach Christie at 360-350-8627 or write her at christie - at - theravive.com.