Life as a new parent is one of the greatest joys that loving couples can experience. As new parents, it’s a symbol of a new beginning and the hope of building a strong and harmonious family in a home filled with love. First-time parents can expect support and care from their extended families, who are also excited to welcome the new baby to their growing tribe.
But, there are unexpected realities, both challenging and rewarding, that only new parents can experience when caring for a newborn baby. Mothers mostly carry the heavy challenges— physically, mentally, emotionally and socially, after giving birth.
New mothers feel many biological and psychological factors that impact their well-being after giving birth. Postpartum anxiety is often associated with women after welcoming a new baby. Also known as the ‘baby blues’, its symptoms include extreme fatigue, frustration, sadness, mood swings, excessive worrying and other negative emotions that mothers feel a few weeks after caring for their newborn. But, it’s also important to discuss that 1 out of 10 new dads also experience postpartum anxiety.
According to UT Southwestern Medical Center, many healthcare providers are encouraging paediatricians to screen both mothers and fathers for postpartum depression. How can new parents navigate their newfound roles and overcome the challenges of nurturing and caring for a newborn baby?
Top 5 tips on how to overcome parenting challenges
Parenthood is a shared responsibility between individuals or a community who mutually agreed to rear a child. New mothers and fathers experience a range of positive and negative emotions in response to the changes that they experience as new parents.
Here are the top 5 tips that new mothers and fathers can apply and practice to guide their way into their new roles and manage their parenting responsibilities:
Revisit and review your expectations and priorities as new parents
Becoming a parent adds new responsibilities, expectations and identity to your individual self. Your responsibilities to yourself and your social circle— significant others, your own parents, friends, work etc. will become more divided when you prioritise your role as a parent. Explore your new roles together and focus on nurturing your family without feeling guilty about spending less time on some of your personal and social activities. Keep positive expectations of becoming new parents by rethinking how both of you can grow into the role and what new surprising things you can learn about yourselves. Don’t be too hard on yourself if you’ve fallen into unrealistic expectations. Learn to share and communicate with your partner about your shared and individual priorities.
Communicate and express your thoughts and feelings with each other
Parenting can become lonely and isolating if you don’t communicate your feelings with each other. Be honest and don’t be afraid or embarrassed of expressing what you feel. Raising another human being is an overwhelming task. Communicating your thoughts and feelings prevents misperception of how you’re each taking your new roles as parents. Be gentle with one another and set aside time to discuss important matters about your baby and your other different roles outside parenting.
Take it one step at a time
Aside from love and joy, fear is one of the most affecting feelings that can hinder new mothers and fathers from growing into their new roles. Remember that mistakes are part of the process. You’re both growing as a person while caring for your child and building a home and family. Be patient and don’t lose focus on what you envision for your family.
Make a list of your baby’s needs
As new parents, there is an exciting feeling of preparing and shopping for the needs of your baby. Onesies, socks, mittens, blankets, diapers and feeding bottles are some of the essential items that your baby must have in her first two months as a newborn. Aside from material things, your baby needs your love, time and affection almost 24/7. Discuss how you and your partner will adjust and divide the responsibilities and schedule for your baby. From bottle feeding and diapering to the baby’s bath time and lulling to sleep, discuss what chores work on your schedules and what items you need to provide as the baby’s needs grow.
Explore how technology can help with your parenting duties
Technology is a great tool that parents can maximise. Aside from apps that conveniently manage and organise the household, there are also baby apps for new parents that help track, monitor and manage newborn checklists.
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