We've all heard the old saying: "And baby makes three." Well, a baby makes a lot more than that. Most couples dream about and plan on having a family when they get married, but the reality doesn't always match up to the dreams. The transition from husband and wife to mom and dad begins even before the baby is born. How each partner adapts to the baby, and to each other as parents, determines how easily and well the couple makes this important transition.
The most obvious transitions are the physical and emotional changes women undergo during pregnancy. These changes affect everything from diet and energy to sleeping patterns and sex. A man also goes through psychological transition as he both observes and experiences change in the woman he married. In fact, some men go through their own psychosomatic versions of morning sickness along with their wives. Along with good, open communication about the 'feel' and changing needs of pregnancy, women need to encourage and support their partner's involvement. Men who accompany their wives to prenatal appointments, testing and prenatal classes are positively effected by the earliest emotional experiences of their parenthood.
But the big changes don't begin until the baby is ready to arrive. While the woman must carry and deliver the baby, the presence of the father during labor and delivery deeply strengthens bonding of the couple in their new roles. This is important, because once home, the baby will make its presence felt.
What are some of the changes in home life, and the life of the couple? There are definite short term changes in their sex life. The woman will be unable to have intercourse for several weeks, and not until approved by her physician. Leisurely, romantic time alone will be hard to come by for many weeks, if not months, depending on the support available to the couple from others. Other adjustments to consider are in the table.
Adjustments For Couples
- sleep cycles
- sleep deprivation
- new emotional triggers
- income changes
- spending money
- time together
- activities together
- social life
Some husbands go through periods of feeling displaced when the new baby first arrives, demanding a great deal of their wife's attention. If left unaddressed or unresolved, resentment and, probably, a little guilt can evolve. Men can also feel jealous of their wife's time with the infant. They often want to spend more time bonding with the new baby themselves, and may feel there is too little opportunity for them to do this.
Women, on-the-other-hand, can resent the demands that baby makes on her time and on her body. Everything changes. And while these changes are normal and natural, adjustments to the changes can be difficult.
The best way for both men and women to deal with their feelings is to communicate and be honest about them. Sometimes, this can be difficult because guilt for having these negative feelings is also common. But, unless communication lines are kept open, evolution of 'the couple' as a couple in new roles will be difficult.
Talk with each other. Also, talk to friends or close family members who have gone through the transition to parenthood. Some find consultation with a couple's counselor or therapist a great help. New parents' groups can also help provide support.
When "baby makes three" becomes a reality, your life will be changed forever. How you react as individuals and as a couple will effect your experience and the quality of your lives in the early years of parenting.