I remember when I had my baby. I didn’t sleep for three days—didn’t need to. All I needed to do was to watch her face. You would think there isn’t much to watch. Newborns don’t really do much. But this was different. Her little face was so animated. I just couldn’t get enough! Her chin would quiver, and my heart would just melt. She looked just like a little Buda; as if all knowledge and all wisdom were already at her command as she examined the world through her inscrutable eyes. Yes, having a baby is a mystical, magical and mythical event!
But, it isn’t all coos and cuddles. There is mind and soul numbing sleep deprivation that makes those college all-night study marathons look like a walk in the park. There is an unbelievable endless ocean of work to do. Who knew that such a tiny being could produce such mountains of laundry? We have all heard that when a baby is born, it changes your whole life, but nobody prepares us for the toll it takes on our relationship with our spouse. According to the research of Dr. John Gottman, of the Relationship Research Institute, within three years after the birth of a child, two-thirds of couples report a significant drop in satisfaction in the quality of their relationship with each other, as well as a dramatic increase in the level of conflict and hostility.
The number one complication of childbirth in this country is postpartum depression. It should be no surprise that many mothers might experience postpartum depression, but a lesser known fact is that many fathers experience depression and anxiety following the birth of a baby. To make matters worse, many fathers feel excluded from the evolving relationship between their wives and their babies, and they can be overwhelmed by the responsibilities that fatherhood brings. This sets the stage for a situation in which everyone feels lonely, isolated and unappreciated.
The ramifications of the deterioration in the relationship between their parents for the child are enormous. How much of the 50% divorce rate in this country can be traced back to the seeds of discontent sown during this period?
Research shows that the quality of the relationship between the parents is the foundation on which the development of the child is built. Parents embroiled in a relationship seething with hostility, or who become withdrawn and unresponsive have dramatic effects on the emotional growth and cognitive development of their children, and the impact is long reaching. A strong connection between parents is necessary to produce children who feel loved, connected and secure. Children, who grow up in the midst of conflict between their parents, are much more likely to be language delayed, and to experience learning, attention and behavioral problems as they grow. They are also much more likely to have poor self images and are more prone to feelings of depression and hopelessness.
Bringing Baby Home (BBH) is a research-based workshop developed to help parents to increase the quality of satisfaction in their relationships after becoming parents. It teaches couples the relationship skills that they need to transition from being a happy couple, to parenthood, giving them the tools to build the family they always dreamed of.
The workshop helps parents to learn what to expect during this transition from being a couple to being a family. It gives them a strategy to help them navigate the potentially treacherous waters of this transitional period and prepares the couple to use this experience to strengthen the levels of friendship and intimacy between them, as well as giving them the tools to resolve conflict when it arises. The workshop prepares parents for developing a strategy for co-parenting that result in both parents staying involved with the baby. These tools can help to increase the level of relationship satisfaction after birth.
As a result of the BBH workshop, the incidence of postpartum depression and anxiety (65.5% in new mothers) dramatically decreased to 22.5% in those mothers who participated in the program. Fathers too, experienced less depression and anxiety after the birth of their babies.
The Bringing Baby Home Workshop is being held monthly at Seton Medical Center Williamson in the GoodHealth Commons*. Only Certified Gottman Educators (CGE) are able to teach this course.