Oh Baby: Baby Proofing your marriage - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Oh Baby: Baby Proofing your marriage

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -

You've painted the nursery. Gone to Lamaze class. Bought a car seat. So what's left to do before your bundle of joy arrives?

What about going to therapy?

More and more couples are attending pre-baby couples counseling in an effort to baby-proof their marriage before the big day.

Sometimes it's hard for Mary and her husband James to remember what married life was like before baby Woods came along.

Now, these days it's all about him.

"The days of just doing whatever you want on a weekend or going out quickly and randomly for dinner or whatever are, are rare," new dad James Moorhead said.

But they didn't want their bundle of joy to become a bundle of trouble to their relationship. So they decided to give pre-baby couple counseling a try.

"Being able to sit and have time to discuss us and where we were going and some of the things I'd been reading about, it made it less scary I guess," new mom Mary Moorhead said.

 A recent study showed two-thirds of couples felt less satisfied with their relationship within the first three years of having a child.

 In response, a growing number of programs are now introducing relationship classes in addition to childbirth education.

"As couples transition to parenthood, they typically have less resources like time, money and freedom to nurture their relationship. We see many couples fall into a cycle of work, kids and household responsibilities that can leave, leave a couple feeling disconnected," psychotherapist Joyce Marter said.

Balance, a counseling center that offers pre and post baby counseling sessions.

"We really work with couples on enhancing their communication skills and their ability to successfully navigate through conflict. And we also really encourage them to consciously make their relationship a priority and carve out time and space to nurture it," Marter said.

 Other centers offer group workshops instead of one-on-one counseling. A less expensive alternative.

"If you can learn as a couple, even before the baby comes, how to actually manage conflict with your partner, it's going to be so much easier to sort of just get through that, those issues, once the baby does come," researcher Dr. Renay P. Cleary Bradley said.

 Cedric and Angelique say the "bringing baby home" workshops were a lifesaver to them.

"It was a great reminder to make sure we make time for each other each day and on a regular basis and we do things to focus on each other and not just the children," mom Angelique Davis said.

"We go to experts for all kinds of things, our cars, our health, our education.

And, so, why not do it for parenting?" dad Cedric Davis said.

 So does it really work? one study found couples who participated in weekly group counseling had a much smaller decline in marital satisfaction - than parents who didn't attend counseling.

"Although it's really important to focus on your baby, it's also important to focus on your relationship," Pediatrician Dr. Ari Brown said.

 Pediatrician and author of Expecting 411, Brown said whether you consider counseling, a workshop or even just reading books together, nurturing your relationship is vital to bringing up baby.

 "Don't just focus on some childbirth classes. Focus on your relationship and how it's going to grow once that baby arrives. It's the most challenging thing you ever will do to be a new parent. It's also the most rewarding," Brown said.

As for Mary and James? They believe that putting their

Relationship first has made them better parents in the long run.

"It just helped us to be more balanced. It really did," Mary Moorhead said.

Experts say men and women experience baby-related relationship problems at different times, with mothers reporting their marital satisfaction dropping almost immediately after the baby is born, whereas dads may not feel dissatisfaction until a few months in.

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