You're Having a Baby! What Happens Next?

You're Having a Baby! What Happens Next?

Victoria Ferrara


Whether you are married or single, having a baby will dramatically change your life. Obviously everyone expects that their lives will change for the better because they are having their dreamed-of baby. But life at its best will still definitely throw some curve balls. 

When Michelle and I had our first baby, he was a preemie. That actually turned out to be a good thing because we had these awesome NICU nurses teaching us how to care for our newborn. They taught us the practical stuff like changing diapers and bathing our baby, but one of the nurses took it a step further.

She took us to a small quiet area of the NICU and gave us advice about our relationship. She said, "you know, having a newborn baby places a lot of stress on your relationship, so just be aware that if you have tension, it is most likely just because you are adjusting. Don't worry that anything is wrong with your relationship. It's normal to have some tension." Basically the message was: Stay close and ride out the rough times.

Whether a new baby brings spouses closer together or drives them apart has a lot to do with the pre-baby relationship, says Jerrold Lee Shapiro, PhD, a clinical psychologist and chairman of the department of counseling psychology at Santa Clara University in California.

"Having a child intensifies everything in a relationship," he tells WebMD.

"With the arrival of a first child, everything good in a marriage gets better, everything bad gets worse. A couple that has good intimacy will find a lot more to share, more experiences to get excited about together. A couple that has a lot of distance will find that a child becomes a wedge." From Web MD 

One of the main pieces of advice I have heard and tried to practice over the years in terms of parenting and family life is to keep the relationship first or primary. If either parent's relationship with the child becomes primary, the relationship  between the parents will suffer.

Psychologist Arthur Kovacs, PhD, recommends setting aside at least a few hours of couple time every week, "even if you have to schedule it. This time does not have to involve anything fancy -- taking a walk, eating dinner together, or meeting up with friends can help you and your partner reconnect throughout the week. Make plans that are easy, so you'll be more likely to keep them. From

If the parent is single, then the parent's relationship with himself or herself as well as with a close friend or group of friends must be kept in sight and be prioritized.

The single parent will have to watch out for having an overly close relationship with his or her child, in other words, avoid turning the child into a significant other. A single parent can achieve a good balanced relationship with his or her child by nurturing friendships, family ties, outside interests, and a healthy life in general.

The Single Parent Center gives this advice: "One of the best things you can do for you baby as a single parent is too make sure you take the time to look after yourself - a healthy mom [or dad] is better able to care for her[or his] baby, than a frazzled, stressed out mom [or dad] who does not give attention to her own needs. Give yourself a break and enjoy your baby, these moments pass by all too quickly and there are definitely times when the laundry can wait. Take the time to get to know your baby and his little personality and before you know it, you will be reaping the rewards for all your hard work in those special moments when he flashes you a gorgeous gummy smile."

Most importantly, always know that support is available, either from family or friends, or even professionals. If difficulties arise, don't wait to reach out. It will be easier to keep life on a positive track if you seek help before problems get too intense. 

And always try to stay in the moment. When my children were young, people said it goes fast. And they were right. It seems just yesterday I had two little boys and now I have two big boys. Enjoy!

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