10 stressors of being a new parent and how to face them

January 07, 2021 | by Edward-Elmhurst Health

Caring for a new baby is not easy. New parents have a lot of adjustments to make. Some of these adjustments are quite challenging and stressful for most families.

If you can anticipate the stressors new parents often face and make a plan prior to bringing home your baby, you’ll be ahead of the game. The following may not resonate with you until your baby is here, but keep these in mind when that day arrives:

  1. Fussy baby. If you haven’t been around babies much, you should know that they can be fussy and cry — a lot. As you get to know your baby, it will be easier to figure out what’s going on. If your baby still fusses after feeding, burping, diaper change, etc., try the five S’s: swaddle, side, shush, swing, suck. Knowing this in advance can help you on the spot.

  2. Lack of support system. New parents often need the support of peers in similar situations. If you don’t have several friends with new babies, look into support groups for moms and dads (many are being offered virtually now) to ask questions, get advice and make new friends.

  3. Unrealistic expectations. Babies are demanding — very demanding. Don’t fool yourself into thinking that when you’re home with your baby, you’ll have “free time.” Your life will be consumed with taking care of your baby, so keep your expectations simple.

  4. Embarking on another big change. A new baby is a huge life change. Avoid another big change right after your baby is born, such as starting a new household project. You’ll need to devote this time to bonding as a family and learning to care for your baby — and you’ll have your hands full.

  5. Unequal responsibilities. From the start, you’ll want to divide baby care duties (diaper changes, nighttime shifts, etc.) equally between you and your partner. Dads, you are not a “helper” to mom, but a partner in this new family. If you’re a single parent, think about what kind of support system you can set up ahead of time.

  6. Not accepting help. You will need it. Enlist help with meals, laundry, cleaning, errands, even just someone to hold the baby while you shower or nap. Have a plan for how to get out for quality time with your partner or take a break for yourself.

  7. Trying to be perfect. You won’t be able to do it all. It’s not the end of the world if the house gets a little dirty or routines fall by the wayside. Instead of trying to keep up with your old way of life, focus on the basics and let the rest go for now.

  8. Be unprepared for physical changes. Moms, your body will go through a number of changes after giving birth, all while you are trying to care for your newborn and adjust to motherhood. Learn about some common changes to expect during the postpartum period.

  9. Lacking coping strategies. You’ll need to take care of yourself. Stay hydrated, eat and get outside to get fresh air when you can. Ask other moms what they do to de-stress. When you need a break, put your baby in a safe place and take a few minutes to breathe in and out.

  10. Be unaware of postpartum issues. Having a baby brings physical and emotional changes. It’s normal to cry for no reason and you may even get the “baby blues” (perinatal mood and anxiety disorders affect as many as 80 percent of women, and dads can get the baby blues, too). Know the warning signs of an issue and how to get help.

Just remember, after your baby arrives, life may not go according to plan for a while, and that’s OK. The newborn phase doesn’t last forever and you just may miss it when it’s over.

If you have any concerns, reach out to your doctor or your child’s doctor for more information and support.

Learn more about pediatric care at Edward-Elmhurst Health.

Get support from Linden Oaks Behavioral Health.

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