When a family welcomes a new life, they were excited, but they feel perplexed because they are not only taking care of the new baby, they are also adjusting themselves. Both mental and physical health suffer great changes. When couples experience changes in their roles, they will find that the new demands of the infant are difficult to keep balance with other responsibilities. In this essay, it will be divided into five parts, which are ‘definition’, ‘the impact of new role’, ‘maternal adjustment’, ‘challenges’, and ‘supports’.
The birth of the first baby – often referred to as the transition to parenthood (TTP) – is both a time of great joy and great stress for new parents (Doss and Rhoades 2017).
The impact of new roles
To Father: since becoming the role of father, life becomes regular. For example, go home on time. Maintain relationship with wife closely, while even satisfy all sorts of physiology demand of the newborn. In social work, the father, as the main source of income in the family, needs to provide a good quality of life for the family. Faced with the increasing financial demands of their families, they will work hard and bear more financial pressure.
To mother: after having a baby, life-cycle gets smaller and narrower. The topic of talking to others is all about the child. Maternal concerns with infant care are always focused on several areas, including feeding, crying, physical care, other people caring for the baby, illness, and behavior (Caetano et al. 2018). These make the mother feel exhausted. If the support system is not enough so that the relationship between husband and wife is easy to strain because the mother of her requirements are too high, but feel that the family cannot help. From the perspective of society, the mother has the social expectation of taking care of her baby, and at the same time, she also has to bear the psychological pressure from grandparents because the parenting styles and the habits are different.
The best way to transition to new roles is communication and understanding each other. Father needs to be considerate and supportive because unpaid work does not mean it is easier. Meanwhile, the mother needs to plan clearly, adjust her schedule appropriately, and provide her own breathing space.
During the postpartum period, the maternal adjustment becomes particularly important, which contains psychological, physical and social adjustment.
Firstly，emotion regulation has significant implications for health because it may influence every aspect of functioning, including mental and physical health, and relationships. Accumulating research suggests that parental psychopathology may have detrimental consequences for parenting, impacting both parents and children (Rutherford et al. 2015).
The resources of the emotion problem are from four main themes. There is a lack of knowledge about postpartum, lack of preparation for the postpartum experience, lack of continuity of care, and disconnect between providers and postpartum mothers (Caetano et al. 2018).
If these lacks are solved, give the mother adequate safety, and then, they are in the best mood
Secondly, it is about physical adjustment. According to the analyzed studies, the following common signs and symptoms were found: tiredness, fatigue, body changes and getting back to the pre-pregnancy shape, the perineum, weight, pain and discomfort, self-esteem, anxiety, and insecurity (Caetano et al. 2018). The physical problem also can lead to mental unhappiness. The mother always notices to prevent hemorrhage and infection and take care of the perineum, breasts, and nipples. At this time, it is a better choice to get the need for specific information about recovery, create a restful environment to relieve the pain, offer practical assistance, education and general check-up.
Thirdly, the mother should need to adjust in the aspects of society. The most common maternal concerns in the transition to parenthood are socioeconomic status, particularly the existence of financial problems and low income, as well as the professional situation, the family, and interpersonal relationships (Caetano et al. 2018). Some mothers get the postpartum depression because of society, and unpaid work they have to do. However, social support and peer support play a key role, which will be described below.
When a family has an infant, except the happiness infant brings, there will be challenges. Changes are observed in the routines and relationships. While social workers can give them a hand.
The first challenge is about daily routines. If making a plan of daily life, according to the infant, which can break down the original activities sporadically, the temporal incongruence of the family’s members can make the daily schedule derailment. For example, hunger and sleep-wake patterns of the infant always appear incidentally, and these cannot be predictable and considered into a plan. When a planned daily activity is disrupted or parents cannot finish a task on time due to unforeseen problems, it upsets the balance of the entire daily schedule, and thus, schedule derailment takes place (Goede and Greeff 2016). About parents, working long outside can also more possibly increase the temporal incongruence. When a family has the baby, the family’s time becomes more important. It’s hard to keep the balance between the family and work, and the routines become tight, busy and indiscipline. In the long run, the negative ripple effect on the family’s schedule, and the family member has an irregular daily routine. However, social workers can help new parents find the context-specific factors of the schedule derailment and create some pertinent strategies to avoid the irregularity more deeply.
Another challenge is about the relationship, especially reflects on the extended family involvement. Mothers are often exhausted by the requirements of family and work duties, or they become socially isolated as they intensively focus on childcare (Kaźmierczak and Karasiewicz 2018). Therefore, some adults would live in the home of their family of origin after getting married, even during various phases of their transition to parenthood. When the child moves between the unsynchronized schedules of parents and grandparents it makes it more difficult to implement the couple’s routines consistently. Some couples also complain about the live-in extended family who ‘interfered’, contradicted the instructions they gave to their children (Goede and Greeff 2016). However, although living with parents is beneficial to bring up the baby and reduce the pressure of the mater, meanwhile, the couple loses the freedom and their authority to the child undermine. Maintain a family’s unique life-cycle context is important because it can contribute family’s sustainability. When the involvement of relatives negatively affects parent’s routines, social workers can improve the communication and negotiation skills of first-time parents so that they can effectively establish appropriate boundaries (Goede and Greeff 2016). Appropriate contribution from relatives is conducive to the child but with clearly communicated expectations and restrictions. If notice these boundaries and keep own family’s daily routines, all challenges will be overcome.
Support is especially important because a support relationship strengthens and maintains the woman’s constructive feelings about the motherland and the fetus. Responsive, sensitive and appropriate social support can have a positive effect and encourage the development of attachment, especially between mother and infant (Lumsden and Holmes 2010).
Support can be divided into three parts: family support, midwives support, and peer support.
Initially, Partner’s sensitive caring and appropriate practical help can improve the sense of emotional well-being and self-confidence on mater, and also can reduce the incidence of postnatal depression. For example, the partners can do some practical support provided, like doing household chores, shopping and generally paying to share some stress from life. Nowadays, there are several national charities and locally focused charities that support families by facilitating social communication between parents as well as offering financial support for travel. Some charities, like BLISS, make available a wide range of literature to parents to better promote them to engage in dialogue and collaboration, aim to facilitate ‘family-centered care’ (Meeks et al. 2010).
Furthermore, Midwife has an important role during the transition of the parenthood. In the aspects of life, midwife educates the family member to keep hand hygiene because generally, hygiene contributes to less infection and improved wound healing (Johnson and Taylor 2016). When the family members want to touch the infant, they also keep hand hygiene because the immunity of the baby is lower than adults and much easy to be infected. Meanwhile, the midwife makes the parents facilitate, such as teaching a loving and safe feeding technique
Additionally, Peer support has some interrelated positive impacts on the emotional wellbeing of mothers. Some women described that the peer support contributes them to reduce their low mood and anxiety by overcoming feelings of isolation, disempowerment and stress, and increasing feelings of self-esteem, and parenting competence (Mcleish and Redshaw 2017). Postpartum visits can improve a mother’s self-esteem, and having someone to talk to improve her emotional and recovering health. The reason is that peer support allows mothers to speak up because they don’t have to worry about the negative would impact on the family members. While the peer listens, it also can reduce psychological pressure. Besides that, some volunteers will help the mother to shop or cook, even looking after the infant for a short time so that the mother can have a rest.
All in all, being a new parent, psychology, society, family, every aspect needs to be adjusted. especially the mother. Mothers endure not only the emotional and physical damage of their children but also social pressure. The transition to parenthood is more about understanding for each other and mother’s adjustment by herself. The family lifestyle changes with the child, while they receive guidance from midwives and support from partners and peers when raising the child. In a sense, becoming a parent is a new start in life.
- Doss, B.D. and Rhoades, G.K. (2017) ‘The transition to parenthood: impact on couples’ romantic relationships’, Current Opinion in Psychology, 13, 25-28, available: https://www-sciencedirect-com.proxy.lib.ul.ie/science/article/pii/S2352250X16300276
- Rutherford, H.J.V., Wallace, N.S., Laurent, H.K. and Mayes, L.C. (2015) ‘Emotion regulation in parenthood’, Developmental Review, 36, 1-14, available: https://www-sciencedirect-com.proxy.lib.ul.ie/science/article/pii/S0273229715000027
- Caetano, A.B.D.J.R., Mendes, I.M.M.M.D. and Rebelo, Z.D.A.S.A. (2018) ‘Maternal concerns in the postpartum period: an integrative review’, Revista de Enfermagem Referência, 4(17), 149-158, available: https://search.proquest.com/openview/a0d42e02fa3a380d6c476e45901f4cd0/1?pq-origsite=gscholar&cbl=2042208.
- Goede, C.D. and Greeff, A. (2016) ‘Challenges couples face in managing family routines after the transition to parenthood’, Social Work, 52(3), 313-331, available: http://www.scielo.org.za/scielo.php?script=sci_arttext&pid=S0037-80542016000300001
- [bookmark: OLE_LINK3][bookmark: OLE_LINK4]Kaźmierczak, M. and Karasiewicz, K. (2018) ‘Making space for a new role—gender differences in identity changes in couples transitioning to parenthood’, Journal of Gender Studies, 28(3), 271-287, available: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/09589236.2018.1441015
- McLeish, J. and Redshaw, M. (2017) ‘Mothers’ accounts of the impact on emotional wellbeing of organized peer support in pregnancy and early parenthood: a qualitative study’, BMC Pregnancy and Childbirth 17, 13/January, available: doi: 10.1186/s12884-017-1220-0
- Lumsden, H. and Holmes, D. (2010) Care of the Newborn by Ten Teachers, London: Hodder Arnold.
- Meeks, M., Hallsworth, M. and Yeo, H. (2010) Nursing the Neonate, 2nd ed., Chichester: Wiley Blackwell.
- Johnson, R. and Taylor, W. (2016) Skills for Midwifery Practice, 4th ed., London: Elsevier.