chapter  25
First six weeks: dynamics between the parents
ByJoan Raphael-Leff
Pages 12

In the transition to parenthood, the marital relationship undergoes new stresses postnatally, due to assumption of new roles, bonding with the newborn and newly reactivated unconscious identifications. Once the first child is born, the parental couple's relationship inevitably undergoes a change. Research on the couple's transition to parenthood has focused on psychological processes, socioeconomic patterns, reconceptualization of sex-roles and changing marital power-structure. Parenthood not only makes demands for new role adjustments and formation of bonds with a new baby, it also stirs up old feelings. Seen from a psychoanalytic perspective, parenthood has been described as a 'developmental phase', like those of childhood and adolescence. A final group of mid-life mothers experienced 'the crunch' - a critical situation, resembling 'overload' phenomenon, in which reality differed from their fantasies and expectations, and they felt that both inner and outer demands exceeded their capacity to respond competently by their own standards.