Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Blog Carnival Post 1: People say nothing can prepare parents for parenthood – but what if we could?

Welcome to the 8th Annual Blog Carnival at Childbirth Today!  Today's featured blogger is Elly Taylor, author of Becoming Us, 8 Steps to Grow A Family That Thrives.

Many couples these days do antenatal classes and even make birth plans, but what happens next? Expecting parents are well supported during pregnancy and birth, but afterwards there can be a real sense of confusion and disorientation as they try to figure out those first few vulnerable weeks and months of family alone. It can be an isolating and stressful time that,
when not navigated as a team, can lead to bigger problems.

In fact, you might be shocked that a whopping 92% of new parents report increased disagreement and conflict with their partner in the first year of family and 67% a decline in relationship satisfaction in the first three.

People say nothing can prepare parents for parenthood…but what if we could? At least some of the parts we know are likely to be challenging. What if we could give couples the heads up about the normal twists and turns so they could see them coming and know ahead of time how to avoid – or at least support each other to navigate them?

The great news is we can. Countries like Australia and the UK are moving to expand childbirth education into early parenthood and new research is revealing there are multiple benefits of this, including:

  • ·         better birth outcomes (due to lower anxiety about what happens next),
  • ·         easier postpartum adjustment,
  • ·         lower stress and anxiety levels generally,
  • ·         reduced risk for postpartum anxiety and depression
  • ·         more satisfaction with the marriage relationship, and
  • ·         setting the couple up for co-operative co-parenting.

That’s a win/win/win for educators, parents and babies!

As a Relationship Counsellor and parenthood researcher, over the past 15 years, I’ve developed a model of the transition into parenthood I call “Becoming Us” that supports these outcomes, here’s a little of what I’ve learned can make a big difference:

Manage expectations – New research out of Australia has found unrealistic expectations of life with a baby can contribute to Postpartum Depression for 30% of women. Equipping parents with realistic and more helpful expectations during pregnancy can reduce this risk.

Build a Nest – Encourage couples to plan ahead for a postpartum babymoon, special family time to focus on what everyone needs (newborn babies mean newborn mamas and papas too!) so they can relax and just get to know each other. The plan can include knowing who to enlist for support and who to turn to for help and when can reduce the known risks for postpartum anxiety, depression and relationship distress. There’s a fully customisable one on my website: ellytaylor.com.

Support the couple bond. Research and shows that when dads/partners are included in pregnancy, supportive during labour and involved in the postpartum period, the whole family benefits – in both the short and long term.

Preparation that goes beyond birth and equips partners for the joyful - but often stressful - transition into parenthood sets the whole family up for their very best beginning.

**Elly Taylor is an Australian Relationship Counsellor, Parenthood Researcher, Author and International Speaker. Her book Becoming Us, 8 Steps to Grow a Family that Thrives has been warmly welcomed by parents and perinatal professionals worldwide and she now trains professionals in her Becoming Us™ model.


Betsy Schwartz said...

Yes Elly. We get to improve the fourth trimester experience for couples. It is often overlooked. And support and education are critical.

Sally Placksin said...

Wonderful article, and so needed. Bringing these elements into the preparation we give new parents will undoubtedly have short-term and long-term benefits for mama, baby, and
the whole family. Thanks so much for leading the way with this research and creating a Becoming Us™ model.