City Research Online

A systematic review and meta-synthesis of the impact of becoming parents on the couple relationship.

Delicate, A., Ayers, S. ORCID: 0000-0002-6153-2460 & McMullen, S. (2018). A systematic review and meta-synthesis of the impact of becoming parents on the couple relationship.. Midwifery, 61, doi: 10.1016/j.midw.2018.02.022


BACKGROUND: the transition to parenthood (TTP) is associated with changes to a couple's relationship. Quantitative evidence shows the TTP is associated with reduced satisfaction and quality of a couples' relationships. Qualitative research provides information on the lived experience of couples in the TTP so can provide a more in-depth understanding of the impact. This review therefore aimed to synthesise qualitative research of the perceived impact of the TTP on a couple's relationship in contemporary Western society. DESIGN: a systematic search was conducted of nine databases and grey literature. Key author, citation and reference searches were also undertaken. Papers were included if they presented qualitative data of romantic partner relationships during the TTP with parents aged 18 or over. Studies were restricted to those conducted from 1996 in Western societies. Analysis was conducted using meta-ethnography. FINDINGS: searches identified 5256 papers. After applying inclusion criteria 12 papers were included in the meta-synthesis. Six main themes were identified: (1) Adjustment Phase (a period of change in the relationship), (2) Focus on the Baby (with a sub-theme of feeling unprepared for the relationship impact), (3) Communication (shifts in communication patterns and importance), (4) Intimacy (changes to sexual relations, romance and closeness), (5) Strain on the Relationship (short-term or prolonged), and (6) Strengthened Relationships (deepening of connection and new affinity). Except for the themes of Strain on the Relationship and Strengthened Relationships, the findings showed the TTP had positive and negative impacts on couples' relationships. KEY CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS FOR PRACTICE: the review highlights a range of TTP relationship issues that couples experience and may require help with. Health care professionals working with parents in the TTP may be able to provide support through antenatal education that includes preparation for relationship changes, and provision of postnatal support to identify and overcome problems.

Publication Type: Article
Additional Information: © 2018 Elsevier. This manuscript version is made available under the CC-BY-NC-ND 4.0 license
Publisher Keywords: Transition to parenthood, Couple relationship, Meta-Synthesis
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Midwifery & Radiography
Text - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial No Derivatives.

Download (256kB) | Preview



Downloads per month over past year

View more statistics

Actions (login required)

Admin Login Admin Login