Bringing Baby Home – The Gottman Institute’s Program for Expectant and New Parents
Earlier this spring, I was fortunate enough to spend four days exploring Seattle. I found myself drinking some very good coffee, walking many miles throughout the city and participating in an engaging and encouraging Gottman Institute training. Bringing Baby Home is a two day program that assists couples in keeping their relationship a priority during and after the perinatal period. The perinatal period is defined as the time frame from the beginning of pregnancy to the end of the first year, the latter also called the postpartum period.
The Gottmans have been studying and working with couples since the 1970s, and are well known all over the world for their work with couples and families. They’ve published over 40 books and written hundreds of papers on relationships. There is a large network of Gottman certified therapists all over the world, who have been trained by the Institute.
According to their website, the Gottman Method for Healthy Relationships consists of seven themes – Building Love Maps, Sharing Fondness and Admiration, Turning Towards Instead of Away, Maintaining the Positive Perspective, Managing Conflict, Making Life Dreams Come True and Creating Shared Meaning. These themes are housed within a framework of Trust and Commitment. Each of these aspects were part of the Bringing Baby Home training. It was a packed training – with both information and activities.
What makes this program unique is that it teaches couples on two levels- the couple’s relationship and the parent-child relationship. It was mentioned many times that the greatest gift that two parents can give their child is a healthy and strong relationship. Coupled with the realities of the first year of a child’s life – at times it is a period of high stress for all three people involved – this course is one of the best ways to ensure an easier transition. Many birth programs focus specifically on the day of birth – breathing exercises, understanding medications sometimes utilized, possible complications, and breastfeeding. The Gottmans recognize that pregnancy, for both mom and partner, is really a state of becoming.
Because the Gottmans are researchers, participants in previous Bringing Baby Home classes were contacted several time periods after completing the course. The results are very impressive: Couples who took the workshop reported highly stable relationship quality, less hostility during conflicts and increased affection during conflicts. Fathers who participated were more involved in parenting, felt more satisfied and appreciated for their contributions, had higher positive quality father-baby interactions, and were rated more positively in father-baby attachment. Finally, babies whose parents attended showed fewer language delays at one year, were rated by mothers as showing less distress in response to limitations, and responded more positively to their father’s soothing.
As one of the trainers also trains parents in Emotion Coaching, we were able to receive a lot of great information on that Gottman education as well. It reminded me a lot of what couples learn to do in Gottman marriage therapy, just with their children instead of their partners. I enjoyed that aspect of our training so much that I purchased the Emotion Coaching education series and have been watching it with my husband. For more information on it, please visit: For Parents.
One thing that stayed with me was the recognition (based on statistics) that 2/3 of all arguments between partners are not solvable, meaning that they are perpetual problems perhaps based on the differences in personality between partners, or needs in each of the partner’s lives. Knowing that, what we do with how we argue about them (as they will continue to come up) makes all the difference. Bringing Baby Home helps to teach skills that can last a lifetime. For more information on classes available in the Milwaukee area, please visit my BBH Education link on the header menu.
** Although the initial research utilized to create this course was based on heterosexual, married couples, the Gottman Institute recognizes that we are a much more diverse society. This coursework is applicable (and has been taught to and also researched/followed up with) same sex couples, mothers who are living with family members other than father, etc.