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Relationship Support after Childbirth

Although the birth of a first child is a blessed event, research suggests it can also be the beginning of the end for many couples.

Typical parental education consists of childbirth classes and perhaps early infant care but rarely is a prospective parent counseled on the seminal relationship change that accompanies the arrival of a new family member.

A new early intervention program provides support and education to first-time parents on parenthood skills, communication tips and conflict management.

According to Australian clinical psychologist Dr Jemima Petch, about half of all couples report a significant decline in satisfaction with their relationship during the transition to parenthood.

Conflict between the couple, psychological distress, negative relationships with their children and poorer child outcomes can be the result.

“I’ve realized there is an urgent need to support parents as couples because support for mothers alone in not enough. This is my way of helping children,” Dr Petch said.

As part of the research for her PhD, Dr Petch has been evaluating the effectiveness of an early intervention program for couples expecting their first child.

The program, Couple CARE for Parents, included face-to-face group sessions as well as phone support after the birth. It covered issues such as expectations of parenthood, communication skills and conflict management skills.

“In couples who received our program rather than the usual antenatal and postnatal care, the typical decline in satisfaction with their relationship was largely prevented. They invested the effort and had the skills to enhance their relationship and stay happy.”

She said only 13 percent of women in the Couple CARE program reported a decline in relationship satisfaction after the birth of their child compared to 42 percent of women receiving usual care. Couple communication also improved significantly after the program.

“Couples are receptive to this type of support and education at this stage in their relationship and hopefully we can change the all too common trajectory of letting their relationship slide once children arrive.”

Source: Research Australia

Relationship Support after Childbirth

Rick Nauert PhD

Rick Nauert, PhDDr. Rick Nauert has over 25 years experience in clinical, administrative and academic healthcare. He is currently an associate professor for Rocky Mountain University of Health Professionals doctoral program in health promotion and wellness. Dr. Nauert began his career as a clinical physical therapist and served as a regional manager for a publicly traded multidisciplinary rehabilitation agency for 12 years. He has masters degrees in health-fitness management and healthcare administration and a doctoral degree from The University of Texas at Austin focused on health care informatics, health administration, health education and health policy. His research efforts included the area of telehealth with a specialty in disease management.

APA Reference
Nauert PhD, R. (2018). Relationship Support after Childbirth. Psych Central. Retrieved on March 20, 2019, from
Scientifically Reviewed
Last updated: 8 Aug 2018
Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 Aug 2018
Published on Psych All rights reserved.