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Our culture tells us to expect the time after having a baby to be idyllic and full of positive emotions, but it is not uncommon for the postpartum time to be physically and emotionally challenging, including the emergence of mood and anxiety symptoms that interfere with well-being and enjoyment of life. Maternal ambivalence—the mixed feelings we have about our mothering role and sometimes our children—can feel like a taboo subject for a woman experiencing it.
New dads need support adjusting to parenthood just as much as mothers do. Becoming a father impacts a man’s identity, his primary relationship, and his level of responsibility to others. Because our understanding of fatherhood has changed so much in recent decades, many of today’s new fathers do not have a role model to help guide them during this time of profound change. A new dad often looks to his parenting partner for direction, but this can leave him feeling like a third wheel struggling to find his place and role in his new family.
Becoming parents is often the most challenging and stressful life transition couples face. The expectations and stresses placed on couples and families can take a toll on this most fundamental relationship. As they’re learning to meet their infant’s needs, the needs of the parents as individuals and as a couple often fall by the wayside. Research shows that during the first years of parenthood, the quality of a couple’s relationship tends to plummet. Relationship conflict and decline in satisfaction can adversely affect parent-infant attachment, child development, family interaction patterns, and overall quality of life. If you are parents struggling to balance the needs of a new baby with your needs as a partnership, early intervention can help.