A happy and healthy parent is necessary for your baby’s health and wellbeing and one of the most precious gifts you can give your baby. Being the parent of a newborn infant requires large amounts of energy and good humour. At times this can be difficult, especially if you’re feeling tired and overwhelmed by your new responsibilities as a parent but there are a few tips you can try to help you through those times.
Caring for yourself
Think about starting a regular morning or evening walk with your partner and baby or a friend. It’s amazing how exercise can lift your mood!
Try to limit the amount of housework you need to do (especially in the early weeks of parenthood) and think about the help you need around the house – list this on a piece of paper and put it on the fridge door – so when people ask if they can help you have lots of things you can ask them to do.
Try to sleep when your baby is asleep. If you’re finding it difficult to sleep, even just lying down for half an hour and closing your eyes can help you regain some energy.
Importantly, eat a healthy, balanced diet and make time to relax each day to keep you physically and emotionally well. Likewise, when cooking be efficient and make extra meals that can be frozen for the time when you are feeling too tired to prepare a meal
Develop a strong support network with other new parents by joining a new Mothers.
Fathers group (these are usually held at your local Child and Family Health Clinic). Stories over a coffee can be a great comfort! There are also countless blogs, and parenting forums where you can read and share parenting experiences, however be cautious about accepting ‘advice’ from other parents.
If at all possible, arrange regular childcare by a grandparent, friend or in a Council operated Occasional Care. Take care to avoid heavy lifting or placing strain on your back by twisting when lifting your baby or baby equipment.
Postnatal depression occurs in 16% of women after the birth of their baby. If you are feeling lonely or isolated talk to your doctor. Talk about your feelings or concerns to a sympathetic listener – this may be a friend, parent or Child and Family Health Nurse
Finally, avoid spending too much time on technology, your baby will grow up very quickly!
Caring for your partner
Having a baby is a big change for your partner as well and there are times when they may be struggling. It is important that you and your partner work together to for the harmony of the household and the baby.
- Plan time together
- Arrange a night out – but don’t forget to arrange the babysitting
- If a night out isn’t possible – think of activities that you can do as a family e.g. a picnic in the park, a ride on a ferry, a walk around your neighbourhood
- Identify and ask your partner about the things you can do about the house or to help with the baby – write a list and put it into action
- Find time to have a conversation together about your feelings, relationship and needs.
- Give yourself time to adjust to the demands of parenthood; you are on a huge learning curve with your first baby.
- Start each day afresh even if things have been difficult the day before
- Have realistic expectations of what you will achieve each day
- There are lots of supports available to help you in your new role – a great place to start is your local Child & Family Health Nurse who will know what services are available in your community for new parents
- A sense of humour is really important, particularly in the early months.