Are You and Your Partner Preparing For or Adjusting to Life as New Parents?
Are you and your partner excited about birth or adoption, but worried about the changes that a new child will create in your relationship? Or, after bringing baby home, are you questioning how to parent effectively while continuing to nurture your romantic relationship? It may be that you and your partner have been fighting or avoiding one another more often, making you feel stressed, lonely and concerned about the future of your relationship. You may wonder if your go-to coping skills, such as walking away to cool down during an argument, will continue to be effective now that you have to balance the needs of your whole family. Maybe you feel confident about the connection and communication in your relationship, but want to develop the shared parenting tools needed to help navigate the ups and downs of parenting with patience and care. Or, maybe you’ve bonded with your baby, but now your partner is driving you crazy. Do you wish you could feel confident that this is the right time to have a baby, secure in your ability to be a good parent and ready to experience the joy of creating your family? Do you want to foster lasting connection and understanding with your partner so that both of you can feel seen and heard, no matter what unpredictable challenges come your way?
Preparing for parenthood can be a thrilling, confusing and overwhelming time. Perhaps you and your partner have been trying to conceive or for a long time, and now that your dreams have become a reality, you’re wrestling with new fears about your ability to raise a healthy, happy child. As pregnancy changes your or your partner’s body, or as parenthood shifts household responsibilities, you may be struggling with questions regarding sexuality and gender roles. It may be that you are worried about the resentment and disconnection that can arise when one parent stays home and the other leaves each day for work. Maybe one or both of you is experiencing emotional ebbs and flows from joy and fulfillment to self-doubt and boredom, which then lead to feelings of shame and guilt. As your lives shift in large and small ways, you may long to continue to be your partner’s friend. You might wonder how to create a shared world in which you are both still curious about one another and both of your dreams are understood, honored and valued.
If New Parenthood Feels Like a Rollercoaster of Joy and Fear, You Are Not Alone
Every doubt, question and moment of panic you are experiencing as a new parent is completely normal. And, while you’re worrying about preparing for parenthood, it’s just as normal to worry about the future of your relationship, both as co-parents and as intimate partners. You are likely feeling a lot of internal and external pressure to create a healthy attachment with your baby, to maintain self-care and to be a good partner, all at the same time. Regardless of what your relationship looks like or where you are in your lives, having a child is difficult, and it’s okay to feel apprehensive and overwhelmed.
It’s equally common to experience relationship issues after baby. In fact, studies show that two-thirds of couples express extreme dissatisfaction in the first year of parenthood. New parents often have very little sleep, very little alone time and no clear handbook on how to parent —although it can seem like friends, family members and everyone else around you is always telling you what to do. It’s incredibly common for the stress of childrearing to cause a fissure in a relationship or to deepen a fissure that was already there. In addition, pregnancy and parenthood can trigger other serious issues, such as body dsymorphia, eating disorders or a history of trauma. It can be difficult to fully understand your own inner world, let alone your partner’s. Thankfully, there is help for new parents. By working with an empathetic, qualified therapist, you and your partner can work through your individual worries and questions. You can build an emotionally safe, loving and honest relationship after baby and feel equipped to nurture your new family as a unified, supportive team.
Counseling for New Parents Can Help You Feel More Confident, Connected and At Ease
You can learn how to take care of your personal wellbeing, the wellbeing of your relationship and the wellbeing of your family, now and in the future. I am a supportive, compassionate therapist who will create a safe space for you to share your needs, hopes and fears openly and honestly, without fear of judgment. In sessions, you and your partner can both feel witnessed and heard while developing the tools you need to truly see and hear one another. You can cultivate an authentic, connected relationship and model true care, understanding and love to your new child.
I understand people as unique individuals in a unique relationship, which is why I trained in many different approaches that address the wide variety of relationship problems after baby. If you are struggling with anxious thoughts and feelings about new parenthood and the future of your relationship, I can help you get in touch with your body and feel more grounded in and aware of the present moment. You can learn how to regain calm even in the most stressful of moments. I am also trained in Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing (EMDR) therapy, somatic experiencing (SE) or trauma resilience model (TRM), which we can use to address any old wounds that might be resurfacing during this period of change. I also offer LGBT family counseling to help those coping with the particular challenges of queer parenting.
In addition, I can draw on my experience with both The Gottman Method and Emotionally Focused Therapy (EFT) to help you and your partner develop more effective communication skills, identify the core feelings causing you distress and manage the struggles of parenting while emphasizing mutual love and care. I will tailor my couples counseling approach to respond to your particular needs, wants and therapy goals, even as they shift from session to session. I offer individualized help for new parents, including strategies and tools that you can practice in the safe space of my office. For example, you and your person can learn how to recognize when emotions are running high and ask for a break to cool down. You can feel better equipped to identify and demonstrate your emotions clearly, which can not only help your relationship, but also model healthy emotional expression to your child.
As a parent, I understand the ups and downs of raising a new baby. I also know first-hand how frightening it can be to anticipate or experience unexpected complications during birth. New parenthood is unpredictable, and you don’t need to go through it alone. Parenthood preparation sessions can help you build a sturdy foundation for your new family. It is possible for you and your partner to experience lasting joy and happiness and lean on one another for support when things feel stormy. You can remain curious about one another’s inner lives and embrace the changes in your shared life with patience, acceptance and love.
You still may have questions or concerns about couples therapy for new parents…
I’m afraid that counseling for new parents will expose something that will hurt our relationship more than it helps.
It is possible that couples counseling will reveal something difficult or painful. But, if that pain is currently buried, it’s best to work through it now rather than later. It’s also likely that what you’re carrying isn’t as bad as you think it is. Often, darkness and secrecy can feel oppressive and isolating. But, when you illuminate your deepest thoughts and emotions, you are likely to find a new lightness.
I feel like I’m already becoming my parents. It’s too late.
It is very common to find yourself repeating the actions and words of your parents that you swore you would never repeat. You are in a stressful place, and it’s understandable that you are using the skills you learned as a child, even if those skills don’t align with your values. In counseling for new parents, I can help you and your partner talk through your families of origin so you can better understand and support one another in emotionally heightened situations. By learning and practicing effective mindfulness techniques, you can begin to slow your responses to stress and discover new, positive ways of managing distressing emotions.
I’m not sure that we’re prepared to have a baby. And now we’re fighting more. Am I making a huge mistake?
If you are feeling that you aren’t ready for your child, or if you fear that your relationship will collapse, then this is the perfect time to seek help. You can work through those fears with a warm, nonjudgmental therapist who won’t pick sides, assign blame or tell you what to do. If you and your partner decide you want to separate, I can help you figure out the best co-parenting strategy for you and your child. If you decide to stay together, I can help you identify and build on your strengths, nurturing a relationship that includes both of your deepest hopes and dreams. You can repair the hurts pulling you apart and come together as a family.
There is support for new parents. I invite you to call me at 323-539-7717 for a free, 15-minute phone consultation. You can ask any questions you have about counseling for new parents, LGBT family counseling and my practice.