How a Newborn Affects Family Dynamics

The birth of a new baby brings excitement as you welcome a new member to your family. A birth can be so momentous that it affects the dynamics of the entire family, creating new shifts in the way loved ones interact with each other. When you anticipate these changes, you can be better equipped to ride out the adjustments.

Couple to Parents

When the birth of a baby transforms you from a couple to parents, the transition can be significant and challenging. Sharing in the birth of your baby often heightens a connection between partners. There may be difficulties ahead, however, as you navigate your way through parenting. With the newborn’s arrival, one or both of you may begin to experience significant sleep deprivation, which can make getting along difficult, warns social worker Margarita Tartakovsky, writing for the PsychCentral website. Some reorganization of family responsibilities is also likely to follow a baby’s arrival, which might take some discussion. It’s also possible that the logistics of caring for a newborn will put a damper on intimacy, at least for a while.

Difficult Newborn Behavior

A newborn might exhibit difficult behavior, which can challenge the entire family. Fussy newborns who cry often can be disrupting to the dynamics of the family, state authors of “Infantile Colic,” published by the American Family Physician 2. Parents may become anxious, frustrated and fearful about parenting skills, which can have a negative effect on communication between them and the way the family functions as a whole. Excessive fatigue associated with the crying can make interactions even more difficult.

Older Children

Introducing the newborn into the family will also affect his siblings. The impact of the newborn depends on the older child’s age, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics' website. A toddler won’t have the maturity to understand much why mom and dad seem tired and busier than usual, which may contribute to clinginess. Preschool children, desiring attention, might regress to babyish behaviors. Older children understand the transition involved in the birth of a baby, but they still need special attention and encouragement from parents.

Extended Family

Extended family members might also react to the birth of a newborn due to a shift in family dynamics. With the arrival of the baby, parents tend to focus inward to care for the baby and other children during the initial adjustment period. This change in focus may cause extended family to feel left out and ignored, according to the Associated Relationship & Marriage Counselors website 4. Emotions involved could include anger, resentment and sadness. These relatives, as well as friends, might also need a little reassurance.

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