You read books, apps, blogs and magazines telling you everything you need to know about pregnancy and birth. You quickly become overwhelmed by the industry that babies have become!
How many people spend at least part of their pregnancy considering how their lives will change once their baby arrives? How many couples talk to each other about how their relationship will alter and how they will cope with the pressure of sleeplessness, different expectations, job sharing and shifts in relationship dynamics?
CatholicCare Social Services Hunter-Manning is offering expectant couples and new parents the opportunity to learn strategies to cope with the changes the transition to parenthood inevitably brings in a new program called Bringing Baby Home.
The program was facilitated for the first time recently by the Co-ordinator for Marriage and Relationship Education at CatholicCare, Robyn Donnelly. Robyn said the program’s goals are to promote overall well-being in families, facilitate the involvement of fathers, help prevent post-partum depression and strengthen a couple’s relationship by building communication and conflict regulation skills.
“We know the transition to parenthood is typically a chaotic and challenging time for new parents. We know that birth preparation programs focus on the day of the birth, rather than what helps couples when they bring their baby home. Bringing Baby Home helps couples by teaching them ways to remain loving, strong and connected after their baby is born,” said Robyn.
Jos and Damian Lambert of Maitland, who are expecting twins in December, participated in the first Bringing Baby Home course and are effusive in their praise of both Robyn and the program.
“The course has strengthened our relationship, developed skills to help us work together in times of stress and given us confidence in how we are going to manage life with our babies. Robyn was a wonderful facilitator who allowed us to fully grasp the concepts that form the course. She created a comfortable atmosphere that allowed us to explore our relationship in a non-judgemental way,” Jos said.
Another benefit of the course, which includes eminent psychologist John Gottman’s research and concepts, is that when parents are in a loving, stable relationship their children not only thrive, but learn how to emulate that relationship as they mature.
“I believe couples should be encouraged to invest in this course so they can understand Gottman’s concepts and research together the things that make a relationship strong and more connected. This will help with relationship satisfaction. It also gives children a loving, safe and stable environment in which to grow and reach their potential and will teach children what a loving, connected relationship looks like,” said Robyn.
“First-time parents are often wonderfully oblivious to the challenges that one small human being can bring into the home. The first few months are the steepest learning curve they will ever encounter. They will be inundated with advice (often conflicting), more tired than they thought was humanly possible, mothers will be incredibly hormonal and sensitive and fathers may feel helpless and left out. Relationships will change dramatically. It is vitally important to enter into parenthood as a strong and united team and not forget the importance of being in it together,” explains Robyn.
Bringing Baby Home is run over two Saturdays and costs $120. This relatively small investment in both time and money will reap benefits throughout the life of a couple and the lives of their children. The program covers the theory and practice of strengthening relationships, and the tools to help couples become the parents they want to be for their children.
“We are so glad we did the course. It was totally worth the time and money. We highly recommend it to other couples as it provides the skills to develop your relationship and reminds you about the importance of each other, which strengthens your relationship and will hopefully create a happy family environment,” Damian said.
“We have been utilising the course on a daily basis, using skills like stress-reducing conversation and increasing emotional bids, which is helping us to connect better with each other. We realise that our relationship is not always perfect and life will often not go to plan, but we are going into parenthood with a positive attitude and a commitment to work together, no matter what comes our way,” adds Jos.
Participants in the course will also learn about the cues a baby gives to help understand what they need in those early weeks, as well as the importance of a father’s role in his child’s life – how a father contributes to his child’s social and emotional development. The importance of play and co-parenting is also discussed.
If you are expecting your first or second child or have recently welcomed a baby, you are encouraged to register for the next Bringing Baby Home course which will be run over two Saturdays, 30 November and 14 December. For more information P Robyn Donnelly 4979 1172, E firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.catholiccare.org.au.