Elyse Frankel

B.Sc (Psych), Grad Dip Psych (Couns), M.Psych (Clinical) MAPS

Clinical Psychologist


Articles and Reference Material

Adjustment to Parenthood

Elyse Frankel - Dec 2015

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When a couple have a baby, their life changes.

Parenting lasts a lifetime, and life can never return to exactly what it was before.

The couple become a family through the addition of a child and this changes the ‘system’ that had previously existed.

The birth of a child impacts on the psychological well being of each of the parents as individuals as well as on the relationship between them.

The adjustment to parenthood is a major event for most individuals, both women and men.

Adjustment to Parenthood

When a couple have a baby, their life changes.

Parenting lasts a lifetime, and life can never return to exactly what it was before.

The couple become a family through the addition of a child and this changes the ‘system’ that had previously existed.

The birth of a child impacts on the psychological well being of each of the parents as individuals as well as on the relationship between them.

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The adjustment to parenthood is a major event for most individuals, both women and men.

Pregnancy and childbirth, even when planned and wanted, can be stressful both physically and emotionally. The changes experienced by a woman are probably the most significant she will ever have, particularly during a first pregnancy. In addition to the joys and responsibilities of parenthood, there are also losses, especially for the mother- loss of income, of independence, of a career, of control over one’s body.

Parenting can be a time of great joy and satisfaction, or a time of bitter disappointment and overwhelming stress. For most people it is a mixture of these, and can be a rollercoaster – of demands on ones’ time and attention and other times to simply ‘be’ with our precious child.

Being a parent can be isolating, and it can be tedious with no breaks. Sleep deprivation, exhaustion, worry and anxiety can all be part of this. Feelings of inadequacy, lack of enjoyment, guilt, disappointment, anger and depression can also be experienced.

Most of the adjustments to new parenthood are common to both the mother and father. However, fathers often have additional feelings which are unique- some men can feel distant toward their baby, or have concerns about feeling left out during the early rearing of their children. Changes to the marital relationship can result in anger or jealousy toward the baby who has caused these changes. There are potential losses in regard to physical and emotional intimacy with their partner, which can be frustrating and disappointing.

Many expectant parents have expectations- sometimes very specific ideas about their labour and delivery, as well as about feeding and other aspects of parenting. Labour is unpredictable and yet a negative childbirth experience can lead to feelings of failure as a mother. The sense of loss of control during labour and as a new parent can be challenging, and at times frightening. Being a parent often creates anxiety and fear about the uncertainty we face in life, and about the reality of our lack of control.

If you would like to discuss any of these issues or concerns, or find out more – please contact Elyse