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Three-Part Guide to Making Sure Your Relationship Survives a New Baby (Part 2)

If you, or someone you know, is struggling with motherhood help is available. Reach out to Jamie Kreiter, LCSW by clicking here.

When Beth imagined motherhood, she pictured her and her husband John, lying in their bed on a Saturday morning. She imagined their little baby perfectly content lying between them. Beth and John would lovingly look at each other, and think how lucky they were to have this beautiful baby and perfect family*...…

What Beth did not imagine is being up at 3:00 AM with a colicky, screaming baby, feeling alone, depressed, and resentful as her husband is sound asleep in the next room. Beth is filled with feelings of guilt and worthlessness as she thinks to herself: ‘this is not the life I pictured. I must be a terrible mother. My family would be better off without me.’

No one asks to get depressed after the birth of a new baby. No one imagines that this new addition to their family will leave them feeling isolated and alone. No one chooses to be irritable and resentful towards their partner. And no one wants to think that their family would be better off without them. But this is what happens if you’re one of the 20% of women or 10% of men who experience perinatal depression or anxiety after the birth of a baby.

The high degree of stress during the early postpartum months leads to a reduction in marital satisfaction and increased marital conflict. According to The Gottman Institute, 67% of couples report decreased marital happiness within the first few years of their baby’s life. This picture is even more complicated when looking at couples who have suffered from Perinatal Mood and Anxiety Disorders. Studies show that postpartum depression is linked with higher incidents of marital dysfunction and marital problems, including lack of partner closeness, support, and satisfaction. This is especially true of the husbands of women with postpartum depression who report less satisfaction in their marriage and feel less capable as parents and partners as compared to husbands of postpartum women who are not depressed.

In the case of Beth and John, John recognized that his wife was acting differently. She was withdrawn and cold. She was hyper-focused on the baby and always worried. He was used to his wife being capable and confident. She had been so excited to start a family. But now, he hardly recognized the w