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Tips for coping with a newborn ….

Category :  |  by goodmood

Tips for coping during the first months with a newborn …
1. Love and nurture your baby
2. It’s okay to let things go
3. Prepare meals in advance
4. Accept sleep when you can
5. Breastfeeding or not
6. A crying baby
7. Life is different now
8. Ask for support
9. Get help
10. Saying no
11. Mother’s group
12. It’s okay not to be perfect

We all have an idea of the type of parent we would like to be. It might be something like being calm, in control and knowing what you are doing. I’ll be a natural at this, kids love me right? I’ll be like a baby whisper whose newborn will sleep, eat and grow like a dream. Sounds great but often it just doesn’t work that way, it might not come easily, quite the opposite as having a newborn is one of the biggest life changes that you will ever experience. Feeling stressed is a normal response to this change and the sleep deprivation you will likely have. Your baby just needs your love and nurture and doesn’t want a stressed mum or dad so here are some tips to help you through the first few challenging months:

  • Smother your baby with love, nurturing, attention and cuddles. That’s your only job. You absolutely cannot give your little one too much attention
  • Some days you won’t shower or get changed out of your pajamas and finding time to go to the toilet will be a struggle. It’s ok if the house looks like a bomb hit it.
    You are raising a new person, that’s what’s important
  • Prepare what you can in advance: stock your freezer / fridge with some prepared meals and cupboard with healthy snacks. These will be a godsend on the days you don’t have time to
    even make toast or are sitting for hours holding a crying or feeding baby
  • Babies are nocturnal, they are supposed to be awake during night. Try to accept this and grab a few minutes sleep or rest whenever they do, day or night. Rest, deep breathing or
    mindfulness on an app such as Headspace can still be great to help you reset if you can’t sleep
  • Breastfeeding can be really hard. Some babies take to it immediately, with others it’s difficult, painful and fraught with stress. It’s great if you can but ok if you don’t, it doesn’t make you any less a wonderful mum. Formula is great too
  • When your baby cries hold him or her, comfort, cuddle, soothe, then comfort and cuddle some more. Repeat this and keep on repeating, deep breathing or counting your breaths can
    help keep you calm. Sometimes you won’t know why your baby is crying so however much you try, you can’t make the tears stop, but it’s being comforted that matters. That’s often
    how we feel when we cry – the other person can’t make it better but we just need to be held and loved Babies change, try to be flexible in the moment. What works one day beautifully might not  work at all the next. Often once you have a routine they will go ahead and completely change what they do
  • Understand that life is different now. Accepting that might mean you need to mourn your former life – the you who got to go out whenever you wanted, had a few seconds to reply to
    messages from friends, finished a coffee or tea before it was stone cold, had adult conversations, got to go the toilet when you needed to etc. These things can come back, they just aren’t here now
  • Ask for support, this is tricky stuff and all brand new. Don’t be shy in asking for help and be specific, ‘can you please mind the baby while I sleep for an hour?’ or ‘can you pick up these things from the supermarket for me?’. People are usually happy to help, especially if they have been there, they just usually don’t know how to help unless you tell them
  • Seek support from professionals – your GP and a pediatrician who can be sources of trusted advice as opposed to Dr Google and forums. Reach out to your doctor or come see a
    psychologist if you are feeling down or anxious. It’s really common after having a baby for both mums and dads and we have supported lots of lovely people through these difficult
    times
  • You don’t need to please anyone else. That might mean saying no to new visitors in the early days when you are just getting to know your little one as it’s precious time. It also means not listening to all that well meaning advice that people will offer (whether you ask or not)
  • Go to mothers group. If you are lucky enough to get a good one, you will be surrounded by other mums or dads who feel like you do – scared, out of their comfort zone with no idea
    what they are doing. Together you can laugh, cry, swap stories and advice and know that it’s not just you who feels like tearing your hair out at 2am. If you are really lucky you might
    make some wise life long friends like I did. In fact my mothers group helped write these tips a few years down the track from having newborns
  • You are human, you can’t be perfect, you won’t be perfect but you can be kind to yourself in the imperfect things you do. Remember, your baby just needs your love and nurture and
    doesn’t want a mum or dad who is trying to be perfect or beating themselves up

 

Alissa Oakes
Psychologist, Clinical Psychology Registrar
MPsych(Clin), BSc(Psych)Hons, GradDipPsych, BEc