Cracking the New Parent Code – 7 amazing secrets for new parents
When you become a new parent – whether it’s for the first time or the fifth, it can feel a little overwhelming. Here are my 7 top tips to reducing the feeling of overwhelm and making sure that you really enjoy the time you have with your baby in those first precious few days.
Secret no. 1 – You’re not alone
You are not alone. It’s so easy to feel that once you’ve left the hospital or the midwife has left you from your home birth that you’ve been left to cope on your own. New parents are often desperate to get home and start enjoying their family life together but it’s worth taking your time until you’re sure that you are happy with caring for and feeding your baby.
Once you’re home, remember that you don’t live on a proverbial ‘one-tree island’. There are people who can help just at the end of the phone 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your midwife will have given you contact details for the post-natal helpline together with phone numbers from a number of organisations who can help with breast feeding. If it’s 3 o’clock in the morning and you don’t know what to do, you may feel like you’re the only person on the planet that’s awake but trust me, you’re not so pick up the phone and ask for help.
Secret no. 2 – Cuddling your baby
New parents often worry that they may ‘over cuddle’ their baby. They’re often concerned that their baby won’t settle in the cot. Your baby has been with you for the past 9 months and now you’ve gone through this wonderful process together and you’re entering this wonderful new world of being a family. When you do something new like start a new job or go somewhere for the first time, you like the comfort of having those close to you support you through the process. Your baby is exactly the same. They are on a new and exciting adventure and to help them along, they want comfort from those they feel safe with – you. Don’t fight it, just enjoy it while it lasts.
Secret no. 3 – Sleep
Lots of people will tell you that you don’t get much sleep when you have a baby. Wrong – you can have lots of sleep it’s just when you get it. If you’re first time parents, sleep when your baby sleeps both at night and during the day. That means taking at least 1 nap during the day, every day. It’s not a luxury, it’s essential to keep you well. Even if your baby slept well last night, doesn’t mean they will tonight so have a nap anyway.
If you’re a second time or subsequent parent it’s a little more difficult but not impossible. Make sure you get an early night, perhaps when your other children have gone to bed. Use the time when they’re at nursery or school to get some rest or use offers of help from family and friends to ensure that you don’t become exhausted. It takes more effort but can be done.
Secret no. 4 – Visitors
Visitors can be lovely but they can also be overwhelming. It’s time to get tough on visitors. Ensure that all your visitors ring first before they come over and if you’ve had a bad night, put them off until another time. If visitors land unexpectedly, get your other half to answer the door and if you don’t want visitors at that time, have a pre-rehearsed excuse such as ‘I’m afraid Sarah is having a nap as we were up in the night’ or something else that’s equally likely to be true. You need your rest and it’s easy to get overloaded with visitors. Also, don’t be frightened to ask them to bring something along like milk or bread if you’re running short. If they’re close enough to visit, then they won’t mind.
Secret no. 5 – Don’t feel left out
This can apply to either parent but often it applies to dads. When a woman is pregnant, she can acquire lots of attention from friends, family and even complete strangers. Once the baby is born, the attention moves to the baby and parents are at risk of feeling like they can’t get close to their baby for the numbers of visitors (see Tip 4). Dads in particular can feel a little pushed out at this point with mum being asked for details of the birth or gaining sympathy for what she’s gone through. Ensure that you have some quality family time together with your baby and your other children that is sacred.
Secret no. 6 – Take it easy
You’ve had a baby and it’s tempting to try to do everything that you used to do whilst caring for your newborn. Taking care of a new baby is a full time job. You don’t clock off at 5pm. You don’t work shifts like they do in the hospital. Particularly if you breast feed, you are on the day and night shift. It’s really important that you take it easy. Some things won’t wait but equally, some things can. Don’t worry about the ironing or other household chores. If it’s not desperate, it can wait. Accept offers of help and never feel guilty about putting your feet up. The course of your day can change from one minute to the next and is often directed by your baby’s needs rather than your own so keep your expectations low, eat and drink when you can and ultimately enjoy these precious moments together.
Secret no. 7 – And finally …
And finally – and I’ve mentioned it several times already – enjoy this time with your baby. They grow very quickly and you’ll look back and wonder where it all went so really take notice of it while it’s happening and absorb every precious moment.