Having a baby is one of the most precious experiences a couple can share- but for some men, uneasy feelings of jealousy may creep up unexpectedly when he observes his wife and baby enraptured in a bond overflowing with love and affection – HEALTH looks at how to identify and help mend feelings of jealousy before it erodes your marriage.
In the post-baby battle over mom’s precious attention and time, dads’ often suffer the most. Research suggests that two-thirds of new moms say the person they feel most emotionally connected to is their baby while in contrast, about the same percentage of new dads say the person they feel most connected to is their partner.
Though dads can feel displaced by baby number two or three, it is most often felt after the birth of the first baby.
After the birth of a baby, men often experience many emotions, ranging from sheer delight to high levels of stress and anxiety– many fathers also feel neglected, especially if they are not involved in the daily caretaking of the new baby. Feelings of ‘jealousy’ often arise when a father does not feel connected to the baby. “This can come about as a result of the amount of time a wife/mother has to dedicate to the new baby, especially if she is breast feeding,” Dr. Hamden says.
New parents are often surprised at how much transition their marriage goes through just during pregnancy alone- some men feel marginalized since their child was conceived and as a result, despite their happiness and desire to be a part of the pregnancy process, they begin to distance themselves-not viewing themselves as useful. ” Dr. Raymond H. Hamden, Clinical and Forensic Psychologist at Human Relations Institute and Clinics tells “Prior to the birth of a baby, especially if it’s the first baby, a couple usually has more time to focus on themselves as individuals, and as a dyad,
Get Dad Involved From Day One
• Delegate tasks; help by changing diapers, feeding formula, and dressing the baby.
• If your wife nurses, ask her to consider pumping breast milk into a bottle for you to feed the baby each day.
• Most importantly, relax and have fun! Your baby will grow up quickly, and you’ll want to enjoy every minute of it.
• Be prepared for change – many couples feel nothing will change and set up unrealistic expectations that things will continue in the same fashion as they did earlier. This is not the case, and it is important for couples to discuss the changes they anticipate, and agree to some ‘change management’ rules.
Impact on the Marriage
Intimacy, says Dr. Hamden, is undoubtedly affected, just after childbirth. First, physiological consequences of birth can make it difficult for the mother to feel intimate, especially if she had complications, or a Caesarean section. Also, she is exhausted, and then both parents soon become exhausted trying to work out patterns of late night feedings. “Recognize the issue and substituting other activities that creates intimacy, like cuddling or relaxing together before bed, in those precious moments when the baby is sound asleep. Also keep communication open during this time to avoid any misunderstandings that have more room to take place when intimacy is affected,” recommends Dr. Hamden. Make it a priority to take advantage of any time alone together and to enjoy each other’s company.