Blog Series: Building a Child’s Emotional Savings Account (part 2)

This week we will explore the key emotional developmental stages starting with the newborn stage.

 So the first (and most obvious) thing to remember is that birth is a  natural and beautiful  process. However, birth is also an act of separation for both the baby and mother.  Mothers often experience this separation with feelings of loss and depression. This is commonly referred to as post-partum depression. It is a normal and expected process of the birth. Fathers also experience strong feelings following a birth. Whether they feel left out or at times, even envious of the baby, these are all normal feelings for fathers to experience. For the baby, many emotions can arise from birth and in the months following birth. These feelings can resemble feelings of joy, sadness, anxiety and rage.

During the days, weeks, months, and even years following a birth, it is important for the couple (and for the family if there are older children) to have conversations and open communication about the pregnancy, the birth and what emotions  everyone is experiencing about having to include a new member into the family. Becoming parents stirs up feelings, hopes and dreams and these all need to be talked about. Because of the necessity to care for the newborn and the toll it takes on parents and their energy level, it is easy to forget about having conversations about what feelings are being experienced and seek support from each other. 

In terms of the newborn, it is important to know that the baby develops emotionally from having his/her needs attended to very closely. A sense of internal and emotional security comes from not having to wait too long to be comforted, fed or cuddled. As parents, it is crucial to get in tune not only with your emotions, but also with the baby’s behaviors, sounds, and moods. The more closely parents get to know their baby and tune into his/her needs, the more likely the baby is to thrive. For example, when babies cry, they are telling us that they are hungry, sleepy, cold, wet or simply lonely.

 So in conclusion, be comforted in knowing that  strong emotional feelings after the birth of a baby is normal and expected for everyone involved. Talking with your spouse or significant other about those feelings will bring you two closer and create an intimate and caring environment for the newborn to be cared for during this  time of total dependence on parents and caretakers for love, affection and survival.

 Join me next week as we explore some key emotional developmental stages of infancy.

Dr. Philippe Rey is Executive Director of Adolescent Counseling Services (ACS).  Prior to becoming Executive Director in 2004, Philippe first joined the ACS staff in 1998 as Caravan House Program Director.  Born and raised in the French-speaking part of Switzerland, Philippe came to the United States to attend college in 1984. His credentials include a bachelor’s degree in clinical psychology from UC San Diego and a master’s in counseling psychology from National University. In 1997 his doctorate in clinical psychology with a concentration in child and family therapy was conferred by Alliant International University in San Diego. Before pursuing graduate studies and a career in psychology, Philippe graduated from business school in Switzerland. Philippe can be reached at philippe@acs-teens.org or 650.424.0852 ext. 101.

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