First-time parents will experience a lot of changes once their firstborn arrives.
What are to be expected? How are your lifestyle and your relationship with your partner going to be affected? How will your body and mind take these adjustments?
The reality you’ve disregarded
Oftentimes, when newborns arrive in families, the focus is directed at them – that charming, innocent smile, those puffy lips, and even those micro-expressions. Appreciating the blessing at hand is a normal event. Parenting joys are one of the most profound feelings human beings can experience.
However, there is a certain area of giving birth and parenting that people might have missed, or somehow, disregarded – the parents themselves. There are certain changes happening with the parents that are usually unrecognized.
According to developmental experts, the progression to parenthood is considered as one of the biggest reconstructions of the parents’ lifespan. A lot of elements are involved in this transition period including:
- The way you think
- The way you behave
- The way your body and mind accepts the role
- Your relationship with yourself and with the outside world
- Your identity as a person
When these changes are ignored and with poor support, the relationship between parents tend to deteriorate and can reach the brink of depression.
Adjustments and coping
How does one identify these changes and how will they know if they are already experiencing the negative impact on their family? And how do you cope if you’ve recognized these adjustments you have to take?
Adjustment #1: Relationships will be tested.
Once you have your firstborn inside your home, both the parents will have to deal with the challenges of raising the new addition as a team. Conflicts and misunderstandings usually arise when there is a child involved. The once harmonious relationship of two people will now be in discord because of the hassles of who’s going to do what and who’s parenting style must be followed. Disagreements are bound to happen and with it is the affectation of intimacy, sexuality, and closeness. The challenge is usually how to reorganize their derailing relationship and agree on a new set of rules as a couple and as a team.
The study conducted by Jane Svensson, PhD, and co-authors, found out that, “Both women and men perceived pregnancy, childbirth, and “becoming a mum and a dad” as “risky.” They identified how, “around the time” they became pregnant, they had often “mulled over” their lifestyle behaviours such as their amount of exercise, food, medication, and their alcohol intake, as well as their work and home environments, in order to maximise their chance of having a healthy baby.”
Coping strategy: Figure where it all started – identify the root of the problem. Becoming a first-time parent tends to amplify any form of preexisting gaps in the parents’ relationship. Communication must be established to de-escalate stressors and to resolve challenges and difficulties productively. Resolve how to balance responsibility within the household and if possible, find a good childcare service. Sacrifices have to be made to make things work.
Adjustment #2: Inner compass is going to be provoked.
Unsolicited advice will be sprung left and right. Everyone will give their two cents on your situation. People who think know better will have a say in your situation. Unfortunately, instead of helping, these types of occurrence are not helpful and can be conflicting.
Coping strategy: Whatever you hear, accept graciously. But don’t let their words be the basis of how you must or must not act towards infant care. Be firm about your decisions and don’t let the various opinions that were thrown at you heedlessly change what you think works for your situation. Besides, they don’t know you better than you do. But don’t pass the chance of having beneficial exchanges with people who truly know you especially those who are concerned with how you’re dealing physically, mentally, and emotionally. “Being a parent means being a learner. Children’s development is not static, so parents must acquire and use new knowledge as their children grow.” wrote Lina Guzman, PhD and co-authors.
Adjustment #3: Physical and mental states will intensify.
Parents, especially new mothers, are the ones who will be challenged the most. Bearing a baby and bringing it to the world is just the beginning of a series of physical, mental, and emotional tests. Some of the physical adjustments that mothers usually experience are breastfeeding, nutritional imbalance, insomnia, and fatigue. These may severely affect the mother’s mood, daily performance, safety, and decision-making skills.
The mental adjustments are usually getting through the process of giving birth because not every mother went through a satisfying pregnancy, others find it traumatic. This can lead to fear, guilt, sadness, anger, loneliness, inadequacy, and even depression.
Coping strategy: Mothers, you are not alone. You can always depend on your significant other to help you pull through your physical and mental dilemmas. Talk to your partner about decreasing the load by asking others for help thereby increasing your support system. “Staying connected within the marriage when you first have a child is really important and can be overlooked,” says John C. Friel, PhD, a licensed psychologist. Don’t forget to take care of your body and constantly communicate with your loved ones to gain sympathy. Eventually, you’ll become resilient with your situation and finally recover and adapt.
Don’t forget about you
While it is the parents’ obligation to provide everything their newborn needs, they should never forget that they matter too. Being well-educated about parenthood and establishing a stable support system is vital in surviving the first few months of years of having a child without dismantling your amicable relationship.