Becoming a parent is a life-changing experience that brings joy, love, and a whole new set of responsibilities. While it is an incredible journey, it can also be overwhelming and challenging.
Adjusting to life as a parent requires adapting to new routines, managing sleep deprivation, and finding a balance between caring for your new baby and taking care of yourself. In this blog post, we’ll explore some practical tips and read advice from other parents to help you navigate the transition and thrive in your new role as a parent.
Becoming a parent
During the postpartum period, many parents naturally feel highly emotional and unable to think clearly. You may feel snappier and more irritable, and these feelings can be heightened further by a lack of sleep and new parenting stresses that you’ve never experienced before.
Let’s run through some tips for new parents who’re adjusting to parenthood.
From baby clothes to feeding equipment and baby-proofing your home, there’s a lot to think about when you’re expecting a baby and it can overwhelming. It’s a good idea to buy what you’re really going to need first, then any extras can be purchased when your little one has arrived.
It can help to ask your friends and family members about which newborn essentials they found most useful, and if you’re worried about cost and caring for the planet, why not look into buying certain baby products second-hand?
Establishing a Routine
Settling into a comfortable newborn routine may take some time, and that’s ok!
Babies thrive on routine, so establishing a schedule can be helpful for both you and your little one. This can include a regular feeding and sleeping schedule, as well as designated playtime and naptime. A routine can help you feel more in control and can provide a sense of structure to your day.
Many new parents feel nervous about feeding their baby at first, and the process of getting into a steady feeding routine – whether you breast, bottle, or combination feed – often takes a little trial and error. How you choose to feed your little one is very much a personal choice that should be informed by what’s best for you both.
Coping with Crying
Your patience can be tested when your little one is unsettled. Each little one has a unique temperament, and many new parents find hearing their baby cry stressful, especially if they’re suffering from colic.
Here are some things that might help settle a crying baby:
- Taking a stroll or a car ride: Sometimes, a change of scenery or the gentle, soothing motion can help to calm a crying baby down.
- Singing or talking: Your baby knows your voice and they like it!Hearing you talk in a gentle voice or softly singing something repetitive, like a nursery rhyme, may help to soothe them.
- “Rock-a-bye-baby”: Gently rocking your baby in your arms can be a really effective way of soothing them.
Excessive crying over time may lead you to have negative feelings toward your baby, this is a natural response to a stressful situation, but it’s important to know that it doesn’t make you a bad parent. It’s ok to walk away and take a breather every once in a while.
If you feel like you can’t cope, or you have feelings of harming your baby, you should reach out to a health professional for support.
Bonding with your baby
Before you become a parent, many people think that they’ll bond with their baby instantly and automatically. But for many reasons, it may take days, weeks or even months before you develop a connection with your baby. This is common and doesn’t mean that you’re not a ‘good’ or ‘natural’ parent.
If you’re worried about your bond with your baby, you should seek professional help.
Mess around the house
The truth is, you need a lot of items to care for a new baby, and all new parents face the challenge of maintaining a clean and organised home. Having a messy house does not equate to being a bad parent or failing at parenthood. It’s so important to avoid comparison and remind yourself that what you see on social media is often an idealised version of reality.
If your house is a little more unorganised than it was before your baby arrived, that’s just fine! You’re likely prioritising your baby’s needs, which is where your focus should be.
Some people can cope with a little clutter around the house, while others find it distracting and feel that they can’t relax. If you’re the latter, try to organise just one area at a time or set aside 15 minutes at the end of the day for a quick tidy-up. And remember, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
“It’s not the time for your pride to get in the way and most of the time people are more than willing to help out new parents. Let them! Whatever your village looks like, use it.” – Marina.
Changes in how you look and feel physically after birth may also impact your self-esteem, but it’s important to resist pressure from ‘perfect’ parents and postpartum bodies that you may see on social media.
Self-care – whatever it looks like for you – and light exercise can help boost your confidence and mood. Try to eat well, get enough sleep, and take breaks when needed, while remembering that everyone is unique, and every journey is different. If you and your baby are healthy, that’s all that matters.
Managing everything that’s on your plate when you have a new baby can be overwhelming. It can help to prioritise and let go of some tasks temporarily. Instead of trying to tackle everything at once, break your to-do list down into smaller, manageable tasks.
Remember, it’s okay if you don’t get everything done at once. Try to be kind to yourself at every stage and celebrate every small win.
Once you become a parent, you’ll find that your relationships with others are constantly changing.
Whether it’s your relationship with your partner, wider family, or friends, remember to take things gradually and give yourself and others plenty of time to adjust to life with your tiny new arrival. Some plans may have to be put on hold and your social life may change, but you’ll soon begin to see how everyone fits into the new picture.
Managing advice for new parents from others
The endless advice you receive as soon as you announce your pregnancy can make you second-guess your abilities and question yourself.
The truth is, some advice will be helpful, and some won’t be. It’s best to trust yourself as the expert on your baby. You know them best of all! So give yourself time to learn as you go, and don’t use the expectations of others to benchmark your idea of success.
Embracing the Journey
It’s easy to get caught up in the idea of being a perfect parent, but the truth is, there’s no such thing.
Parenthood is a journey that’s full of ups and downs, and it’s important to set realistic expectations for yourself and your baby while remembering that it’s okay to make mistakes.
It can help to understand that parenthood is full of unexpected twists and turns, and your little one will grow and change quickly. When you’re struggling, it can help to remind yourself that the hard times won’t last forever and that you’re doing a great job.
Try to enjoy the journey and focus on the present moment, rather than striving for perfection.
Asking for help
Seeking support from others can be hard, and many new parents feel a sense of shame if they struggle to cope with their new baby. But the truth is, so many people find the adjustment difficult, and with the right support, you can thrive!
Even something as simple as speaking to a supportive and non-judgmental friend or family member or asking people to share the load of housework when they visit you and baby can lighten the load.
If you feel that your mental health is being negatively impacted by new parenthood, you should always reach out to your GP or your midwife for support. They’ll be able to help you and point you in the direction of who you can see that can get you back to feeling like yourself again.