Strengthening couples during the transition to parenthood: A randomized controlled study
Nieuwenboom, Jan Willem Benz-Fragnière, Christelle Amann, Monika
The transition to parenthood has shown to be challenging for many couples. This study evaluated within a randomized controlled trial the effects of the Couple Care and Coping Program (CCC-P) against two other conditions: a self-directed learning approach where parents used a DVD to learn knowledge and skills needed to adapt to parenthood and treatment as usual (TAU). We observed the effects of the transition to parenthood on relationship skills (i.e., communication, dyadic coping (DC) and relationship self-regulation (SR)) and relationship satisfaction and the link between them. One hundred three couples becoming parents completed questionnaires from 12 weeks before birth to 40 weeks after birth. All relationship skills and relationship satisfaction decreased significantly during the transition to parenthood. Most of the relationship skills were positively associated with relationship satisfaction and some were even stronger associated with relationship satisfaction postnatally. Moreover, some of the relationship skills predicted relationship satisfaction. Results revealed harmful effects of the transition to parenthood relationship skills and relationship satisfaction but also the association between those skills and relationship satisfaction. This highlights the importance of the Couple Care and Coping Program to strengthening DC, SR and communication during the transition to parenthood for maintaining relationship functioning of couples becoming parents.