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Bringing Baby Home

» Mental Health Library » Disorders & Conditions » Relational Problems » Featured Article

By Carolyn C. Martin, M.S., L.P.C., L.M.F.T.

Carolyn C. Martin, M.S., L.P.C., L.M.F.T.

Ah! There's nothing like bringing a new baby home. You fall in love with that beautiful angelic face, and your heart just melts. What could be more delightful than holding that precious bundle you've been waiting on for nine months?

You bring Little "Johnny" or "Suzy" home and start your new life as a family. But did you know, according to research done by John Gottman, Ph.D. at the Relationship Research Institute, ". . . within three years after the birth of a child, approximately two-thirds of couples will experience a significant drop in relationship quality and have a dramatic increase in conflict and hostility."

And, did you know that:

  • On the first birthday of a child, his/her parents have a 67% chance of reporting that they are unhappy with their marriage?
  • 50% to 80% of new mothers and 30% of new fathers suffer depression the result of dramatic drops in couple intimacy?

Couples often forget or are unaware that their relationship needs nurturing just like their new baby needs nurturing, and therefore, often find themselves neglecting the relationship.

"We now know that the couple's emotional life is the real foundation for a baby's development. A hostile parent-parent relationship holds lasting negative effects on the baby' emotional and cognitive development. These long-tern effects mean that a majority of American children are experiencing a tragic loss of family connection long before they ever enter school."
John Gottman, Ph.D.

Research shows that when a parent is depressed, babies:

  1. become less responsive, emotionally withdrawn and lack joy.
  2. won't explore their environment and won't experience new events with delight.
  3. develop brain wave patterns that resemble those of its depressed parent.
  4. may have developmental delays.
  5. have an inability to self-soothe and attend to play.
  6. show lower scores in areas of intellectual development by age four.

Research shows that when a parent's relationship is distressed, babies:

  1. have more negative interactions with their parents than other babies.
  2. withdraw from their fathers.
  3. are at risk for developing mental heath problems.
  4. are less physically healthy and sick more often.
  5. are at increased risk for developing behavioral problems.

If you, your spouse or your relationship is experiencing distress due to BRINGING BABY HOME find a therapist trained to deal with this issue.

"The greatest gift you can give your child is a strong relationship between the two of you. The real cradle that holds your baby is the emotional world between the two of you."
John Gottman, Ph.D.

About the Author...

As a Licenced Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist in Austin, I provide counseling & therapy to individuals, couples, and families. I feel that my first task as a therapist is to establish trust with my clients. Then I help them discover better ways of dealing with their world. My approach to therapy is compassionate, reassuring and solution oriented. I see individuals for depression, anxiety and sexual abuse. I see couples for premarital, marital, post-divorce, specializing in issues of infidelity, affairs, and cheating. I also see clients for parenting issues, specializing in the problems of new parents.

When working with couples in premarital or marriage counseling, I assess & facilitate change using the research & methods of John Gottman. This approach for martial success is comprehensive and highly effective. I am a Certified Gottman Educator for the Bringing Baby Home Workshop also. For more info see

Last Update: 12/18/2006

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