Here's What To Do To Survive Your First Year As A New Parent
While the birth of a new baby is indisputably miraculous, the demands are daunting, making the first year as exhausting as it is exhilarating. Pride and joy jostle with sleep deprivation, frantic scheduling, marital issues, and work pressures. It's no wonder that about 80% of new parents experience some sort of mood disturbance, ranging from the baby blues to postpartum depression. Having a baby is one of the most life-changing events that a new parent will experience. The months before and after the birth are often stressful, and in this article, we provide some basic tips and advice that might take the edge off this most edgy of times.
Preparation is key for a new parent
Many parents worry about not being prepared when the big day comes. Here are some tips that may help to ease this worry.
Infant first aid
One of the major concerns about having a child is that they may get ill or injured. While there is no amount of preparation that will take that fear away entirely, knowing what you should do if an incident were to occur is a solid idea.
Practice the basics
When expecting your first child, you may never have swaddled or clothed a baby, or even changed a diaper. As the big day draws closer, these basic procedures might play on your mind - just another unknown in a sea of unknowns.
The first point to make is that these tasks are simple. However, there is nothing like actually doing something to put your mind at rest. So, buy a doll that is roughly the same size as a baby and put a diaper on it. Dress it and swaddle it.
No two babies are the same, and no two babies sleep the same. Some are light sleepers, the slightest thing wakes them, but others would not be roused if a Boeing 747 flew past.
However, there are some adjustments to the bedroom that might make night-times a little easier over the coming months.
Blackout curtains. Babies need to sleep during the day, and blackout curtains guarantee a set amount of darkness at any time. This consistency will (hopefully) help to get them in the mood for slumber.
Rugs. If you have wooden floors, put down some rugs so that, as you tiptoe around, the sound is muffled.
Adjustable night light. The essential partner to blackout curtains is a night light.
In the small hours, when you need to get up to prepare a bottle, change a diaper, or use the bathroom, the last thing you want is to slam your shin or little toe into the corner of the bed or step on a hairbrush.
A dim light, easily accessible from your bed, will save you countless bruises and unnecessary awakenings.
Diaper placement. Store a stash of diapers and wipes somewhere easy to reach from the bed. In fact, it is a good idea to have a spare diaper and some wipes in a few locations, including the car, stroller, and your best friend's or parents' house.
Sleep when the baby sleeps
You must have heard this one so many times it's become a cliche. But it's really useful advice. Sleep deprivation is a big problem that new parents face. You're usually inclined to get some chores done while baby sleeps. The result is that you're exhausted all the time. So take our advice. Sleep when baby sleeps. And if is a catnap, do that too.
Look after yourself as a new parent
Self-care in the early days is essential. During pregnancy, the importance of a healthful diet for the mother is a no-brainer. Eating plenty of fruit and vegetables and avoiding drugs, tobacco, and alcohol are essential. Once the baby is born, however, this self-care needs to continue - and that includes the father. The baby is reliant on you for survival, so maintaining your own health is vital. Also, not eating enough or eating low-quality foods can make you feel more tired, which is not ideal. It can be difficult to find the time to cook for yourself, but getting the right nutrients is just as important once the baby has arrived, especially while breast-feeding.
A bit of 'you time'
If possible, whenever you get a chance, take a bit of time out for yourself. Short breaks away from childcare can do your psychological well-being no end of good.
Many people find it difficult to accept help, possibly because they do not want to inconvenience others or are too proud. At this point in your life, say "yes" to help; it could save your sanity.