Tips for coping during the first months with a newborn …
- Love and nurture your baby
- It’s okay to let things go
- Prepare meals in advance
- Accept sleep when you can
- Breastfeeding or not
- A crying baby
- Life is different now
- Ask for support
- Get help
- Saying no
- Mother’s group
- 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
- 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
Psychologist, Clinical Psychology Registrar
MPsych(Clin), BSc(Psych)Hons, GradDipPsych, BEc
The silent grief and heartbreak of trying to conceive or infertility: how Schema Therapy can help you process this.
We hear a lot about the challenges of parenthood, with its excitement, hopes and fears. However less is spoken about the difficulties that many face whilst trying to become parents, in particular those experienced by women. Trying to conceive can be physically demanding but little is discussed about the mental and emotional pain that women go through whilst trying to fulfil their dream of becoming a mother.
There are a multitude of reasons why the journey to motherhood can be hard. These include difficulties in conceiving, under-going assisted reproductive technology (eg, IVF, cycle tracking, using donor eggs or donor sperm etc), miscarriage, stillbirth, infertility, not meeting your ‘Mr Right’ or ‘Knight in Shining Armour’, partner indecision on whether to have a baby, relationship breakdown or a partner leaving during pregnancy or in the first year.
Most women go through this in isolation or with only the support of a select few friends or family members. They are constantly watching their body for signs, willing it to conceive. So often they are facing work every day with this as their secret, forcing a smile or interest when others talk about their children. Noticing every pregnant woman on the street, what should be happy news from friends of their pregnancies makes them draw a sharp painful breath and hold back the tears or jealousy.
For women in many of these circumstances there is grief. Grief for the baby you might never have or hold, grief for ‘how I pictured my life’ or letting go of the dream of having a child with a partner or of using one’s own eggs. Why do we not speak about this? Why do we suffer or grieve in silence? There needs to be a place for this grief to be experienced, heard, felt and processed.
A psychologist can provide this support, someone who understands your journey and does so with empathy and compassion. Schema therapy is especially well placed to help you process this emotion. It is an emotion based therapy so we work directly with what you might be experiencing – grief, loss, heartache, sadness, anger, jealous, self-blame or loneliness etc.
We help you process these feelings and also some of the many questions you might have.
Why don’t I get the dream?
When do I stop trying?
How can I be happy with what I have?
What is my life meaning now? Did I do enough, did I try enough?
Should I have done something differently?
Should I have tried more?
So many I shoulds…. By working through these together, we can help move you out permanent loop and to find your way forward.
This is an area I work closely in and am passionate about providing that support. If any of these issues resonate with you, please get in touch so we can help you through this difficult time.
Psychologist, Clinical Psychology Registrar
MPsych(Clin), BSc(Psych)Hons, GradDipPsych, BEc, MAPS