The Challenging Realities of Becoming New Parents
Becoming a parent for the first time is a life-altering experience that brings an array of emotions—joy, excitement, love, uncertainty, anxiety, exhaustion, doubt, and fear. The transition into parenthood can be marked by numerous challenges often overlooked in the euphoria of welcoming a new life.
New parents have to adjust to an entirely different lifestyle, characterized by sleep deprivation, constant worry about the baby’s health, and the pressure of making the right decisions for their child’s upbringing. Additionally, dealing with physical recovery, particularly for mothers who’ve undergone childbirth, adds another layer of difficulty to this postpartum period.
Invisibile difficulties for new parents during the first few months of their child’s life is managing other people. Family members want to come see the baby. Friends are pining to hold your little one. You hear unsolicited advice more times than you’d like. You’re faced with learning your little one and yourself as a parent, and setting boundaries with others.
Boundary setting may feel foreign to you, or are difficult to set based on your perspective of what a boundary is. Our therapists will guide you through understanding what boundaries are and why they need to be set. Then they will help you set the boundaries necessary to have a smooth transition into parenthood and still maintain healthy relationships with your friends and family members.
The dynamic shift between couples as they take on their new roles as parents can lead to stress and strain in the relationship. Feelings of jealousy and distance are very normal for new parents. Balancing work, household responsibilities, and the demands of a newborn can be overwhelming, leading to feelings of exhaustion and burnout. Being exhausted and burntout do not leave time or energy for intimate connection.
Acknowledging these realities is the first step towards managing them effectively. Our therapy sessions for new parents aim to provide a non-judgmental space to discuss these challenges openly, offering strategies to cope and build resilience for this new phase of your life.
Our Specialists & Therapists For Therapy For New Parents in Philadelphia
Indications of Challenges Adjusting to New Motherhood
Adjusting to new motherhood can be a significant transition, and facing challenges along the way is normal.
Here are some indications that you might be having difficulty adjusting:
Constant Exhaustion: While sleep deprivation is expected with a newborn, feeling constantly exhausted or overwhelmed could indicate that you are struggling to adapt to your new role.
Mood Swings: Postpartum hormones can cause mood swings. You may experience the baby blues a few days after you give birth, this is characterized by excessive crying, deep sadness, and sometimes physical pain. The baby blues will go away in 1-2 days. If feelings of sadness, anxiety, or irritability persist, it might be a sign of postpartum depression or anxiety. Symptoms of postpartum depression or anxiety tend to show up around the three month mark and last anywhere from a few months to a few years.
Difficulty Bonding with Your Baby: While it doesn’t happen for everyone instantly if you’re finding it consistently hard to connect with your baby, it may be a sign you’re having difficulties adjusting. Bar in mind your environment for this. If you have a lot of visitors and they are all holding your baby, you may experience a higher level of difficulty bonding with your newborn. If your partner has been doing their best to help but sometimes that means taking the baby for too long, this may also impose upon your ability to bond with your loved one.
Neglecting Self-care: If you’re always putting your needs last – not eating properly, neglecting personal hygiene, or not allowing yourself time to rest – this could be a sign that you’re struggling to balance motherhood with self-care.
Feelings of Isolation: Feeling alone or isolated, especially if you’re reluctant to reach out to others for fear of being judged, can indicate a problem. Isolation may be a sign of depression or anxiety.
Persistent Worry or Anxiety: Worrying about your baby’s health and well-being is normal. However, if you are constantly anxious or consumed by worst-case scenarios, you may be dealing with more than just new parent jitters. Excessive worry may be a sign of postpartum anxiety.
Strain in Relationships: If you’re experiencing increased conflict with your partner or feel unsupported, it might indicate that you’re having difficulty adjusting to your new role. Or, that the relationship needs adjusting to accommodate you as a parent.
Are Men Impacted by Childbirth and Their Newborn?
The short anser is yes, men are affected by the birth of their child both physically and mentally.
Below are common indicators that you may be struggling as a new parent.
Feeling anxious/depressed: if you find yourself not being able to fall back asleep after a midnight feed, or having racing thoughts as you’re on your way to work, you may have paternal postnatal depression (PPND). Just like birthing mothers, fathers experience issues with adjusting to this new way of life as a new parent experiencing postpartum anxiety and depression. In fact, a recent study showed that 10% of men within the first 3-6 months of their child’s life experience PPND.
Loneliness: Everyone will ask about the baby, to hold the baby, and buy the baby new things. People will check-in with the mother or mom will have a support group within her friends circle to lean on. Men, however, rarely have support systems where they can truly express their deep feelings about the new experiences they have. If you don’t feel like you have anyone to talk to about what you’re going through and you feel isolated, you may have an issue with loneliness.
Change in perspective: You were there for everything – the doctor’s visits, the ultrasounds, when the water broke, and the crowning. Now, you bear witness to the love of your life experiencing a love like noneother all while exhausted and moody. You are struggling to see your partner as your partner. You can’t unsee her deficate as she’s giving birth to your child, she is the mother of your child feeding from her breasts. She is no longer the sexy, mystery woman you live with. If you’re struggling to find your partner attractive because you know too much about her, you may have issues with the new lens you see her through.
Lower Testosterone: Studies show that fathering men have a decreased testosterone than single men. If you experience a lul in your sex drive, it may not be because you’re struggling with seeing your partner differently but that your hormone levels have changed. Lower testosterone may also be impacting your sleep and mood.
Common reasons that new parents seek support from a therapist
Becoming a new parent is a significant life transition filled with many emotions and challenges. In such times, seeking support from a therapist can be incredibly beneficial.
Here are some common reasons why new parents might seek therapeutic support:
Difficulty during Pregnancy: The anticipation and anxiety can sometimes become overwhelming, and cause discord between partners making therapeutic intervention necessary.
Inability to Meet Basic Needs: If new parents are consistently unable to meet their basic needs—such as eating, sleeping, and self-care—it may indicate that they need support with adjusting so that they can get a schedule or routine that allows them to meet their basic needs.
Changes in Behavior: Noticeable changes in behavior or mood can signal underlying issues requiring professional help.
Societal Expectations and Pressure: The societal expectations of parenthood can exacerbate feelings of inadequacy and shame, which may inhibit support-seeking and raise fears of not being good enough. Having an unbiased perspective from the clinician can feel safer than going to family or friends.
Overwhelm and Mental Health Conditions: New parents, especially those facing pre-existing mental health conditions, can feel overwhelmed by the sudden influx of responsibilities and changes, making therapy a helpful resource.
Transition Challenges: The transition to becoming a new parent can be daunting. Attachment-based therapy can help you understand the parts that are so difficult to adjust to and find answers to becoming better at moving through change.
Struggles with Work-Life Balance: Juggling a newborn’s demands and work can lead to significant stress. Therapeutic intervention can provide strategies to manage this balance more effectively.
Therapy for transitions to new parenthood
Therapy can be valuable for individuals and couples transitioning to new parenthood. It can provide emotional support, help develop coping strategies, and offer tools to manage the changes and challenges of having a newborn.
Here are some types of therapy that can be beneficial:
Individual Therapy: Individual therapy offers a safe and confidential environment for new parents to discuss their feelings, fears, and concerns. Therapists can provide strategies to manage stress, anxiety, or overwhelming feelings while also exploring root cause of these feelings beyond having a newborn.
Couples Therapy: The transition to parenthood can strain relationships. Couples therapy can help partners navigate these changes together, improve communication, and strengthen their relationship during this new phase of life.
Group Therapy: In group therapy, new parents can connect with others going through similar experiences. This type of therapy can reduce feelings of isolation and provide practical tips and emotional support.
Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): CBT is a type of psychotherapy that can help new parents manage problems by changing how they think and behave. It’s particularly helpful for dealing with anxiety or depression.
Online Therapy: For new parents who may find it difficult to leave home, online therapy can be an excellent option. It provides access to professional help in the comfort of your own home.
Mindfulness-Based Therapy: This therapy can help new parents handle stress more effectively. Techniques such as meditation and mindfulness can promote relaxation and mental well-being.
Remember, it’s okay to seek help. Parenthood is a significant life transition; therapy can provide the support and tools you need to navigate it successfully.
How we can help
At The Better You Institute, we understand that the transition to parenthood is a significant life event filled with joy, challenges, and, sometimes, uncertainty. Our specialized therapy for new parents is designed to provide the support and tools you need during this crucial period.
Our expert therapists are ready to help you navigate the emotional rollercoaster often accompanying new parenthood. Whether you’re grappling with feelings of anxiety or depression or struggling to balance your new role with other life demands, we’re here for you.
We offer individual, couples, online, and even group therapy sessions for new parents. Each session is tailored to meet your unique needs and circumstances. Our therapists use various evidence-based techniques from therapy models, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and mindfulness-based interventions, to help you manage stress and enhance mental well-being.
Our therapists also help you understand your attachment styles, so that you can understand why you’re interacting the way you are with your partner, your newborn, and yourself. We then provide you with the safespace to explore new patterns that could lead to healthier attachment styles.
The Better You Institute also offers flexible scheduling options, including after-hours appointments and the choice between in-person or virtual sessions. This way, you can access the support you need, no matter your schedule or location.
We aim to help you confidently and easily navigate this exciting yet challenging phase of your life. Let us support you in building a strong foundation for your new family.