The arrival of a newborn baby in the home upsets family organization and daily life. Whether it is at the level of the couple's relationship or the relationship between the parent and the child, it can be difficult to regain the balance that existed before the birth. So what are the different changes involved in a new birth and how best to manage them?

First child: moving from being a couple to being parents

how to manage the arrival in the family?

What change in the couple when the first child is born?

In the case of a first child, the biggest change in the family occurs at the level of the couple, who are given the new role of parents. In many cases, this transition is difficult and is accompanied by a decrease in satisfaction in the couple, and thus a deterioration of the love relationship1. The first child tends to monopolize the parents' attention, to tire them, not to mention the questions and worries that his arrival raises, which considerably harms the couple's relationship. According to a survey carried out by the UDAF in Paris in October 2013 among 600 parents (70% mothers and 30% fathers)2 , 53% of the parents questioned felt tensions in their couple following the birth of their child. The increasing scarcity of intimate moments of love also poses problems: 37% of the parents questioned said they had encountered difficulties in their sexual life after the birth of their child. Even if this does not prevent 90% of the parents from living well during the first months of their newborn's life, it is important not to let tension and boredom persist in the couple.

How to avoid that the baby interferes with the love life?

Communication is important in the prevention of conflicts related for example to the sharing of tasks or the education to be given to the child. It is therefore essential that the couple agree on each other's new role as parents, in order to facilitate the organization. Similarly, differences in views on the education to be transmitted play an important role in marital tensions. Accepting these differences and, ideally, finding common ground before the baby's arrival is crucial to a smooth start to parenting.

Since tension in the couple after the birth of the first child is also linked to fatigue and irritability, new parents need to be given the opportunity to rest and recharge. Most parents appreciate first and foremost the provision of "material" help, such as childcare, help with child care, or help with household chores.3 The first thing that most parents appreciate is the provision of "material" help, such as childcare, help with child care, or help with household chores.3 The second thing that most parents appreciate is the provision of "material" help. Emotional support is also important, and on this subject, more than half of the respondents in the UDAF Paris study2 were able to rely on their family (parents, brothers and sisters). The respite time provided by outside helpers is an opportunity for new parents to relax, to communicate their feelings, and to regain their status as a couple.

Welcoming a newborn to a family with a child The jealousy of the elder: an almost unavoidable stage

The arrival of a second child once again changes the family order, as the first child, then unique, becomes a big brother or sister. Not only does the mother pay less attention to the eldest child, but she also tends to be more restrictive and strict with him or her. Even if this is not systematic2, the fact that the parents' attention is no longer focused exclusively on the first child but on the newborn can cause frustration and anger, to the point of thinking that the elder is no longer loved by his parents. They may adopt aggressive attitudes towards the baby, or adopt immature behaviours in order to get attention. Overall, the child shows less affection towards his mother and may become disobedient. They may even exhibit regressive behaviours, such as not being clean or asking for a bottle, but this is especially true when the child has acquired these behaviours shortly before the baby arrives (a few weeks to a few months). All of this is a manifestation of the child's jealousy. This is a normal behaviour, very often observed, especially in young children under 5 years of age3.

How can we prevent and calm the older child's jealousy?

To prevent jealousy reactions from the first child, it is essential to announce the future birth to him or her, trying to be as positive and reassuring as possible about this change. It is a question of valuing their new responsibilities, and the activities they will be able to share when the baby grows up. It's important to show understanding for his jealous reactions, which means not getting angry, so he doesn't feel further punished. However, firmness is required as soon as he shows too much aggressiveness towards the baby, or if he persists in his regressive behaviors. The child must feel reassured, i.e., it must be explained to him that, despite everything, he is still loved, and he must prove it to him by arranging moments of exclusive complicity with him. Finally, patience is needed: 6 to 8 months are necessary for the child to finally accept the arrival of the baby.

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