Survival Tips for Families: Adjusting to Life After Baby
How are you doing? You might feel like you're in a fog those first few weeks and months with baby. You may be busier than ever making sure baby is clean, fed, warm and safe. But don't lose track of how you're doing, too! You'll be able to tackle those parenting challenges with more energy and confidence if you also take good care of your health.
Stay-at-home parents may feel like they just need a break, or a nap, or a shower. Working parents may feel stretched thin when there are so many demands on their time and energy. How to manage these new roles and keep stress in check? Here are some tips:
Give each other a break. You and your partner may have different roles and responsibilities when it comes to your family. Listen to each other and focus on constructive ways to help versus fighting over who is doing more/less work than the other. It's important to set realistic expectations and reconnect with your partner during this busy time.
Take naps. It's normal to feel sleep deprived if you're waking up every two hours to help with feeding the baby, diaper changes, etc. "Get rest when the baby sleeps" is good advice, although it's easier said than done if you have chores to do and other children to care for. If you can sneak in a nap, do it!
Recruit extra help. Reach out to friends and family. They might be willing to babysit so you can get some rest or get out of the house!
Ask for advice. Moms and dads sometimes assume that this parenting thing comes naturally. But there are aspects that may feel strange and distressing. For example, breastfeeding is hard work, and sometimes painful! A nurse or lactation specialist can help resolve common infant feeding problems.
Carve out quality time. Opportunities for date nights may be limited. Keep your relationship strong by checking in with each other emotionally and spending time together as a couple.
Get fresh air and exercise. Being cooped up with a crying baby can be stressful for both the parent and child. Sometimes babies just need a change of scenery, and parents need to get outside and go for a walk.
Let go of irrational fears. It's important to make sure car seats are installed properly, your home is childproofed and immunizations are up to date. But don't let yourself be consumed by worries and fears beyond your control.
Take a deep breath. If you feel like you're going to snap under pressure, take a time out. Identify situations that cause anger or frustration to boil over and use strategies (like listening to music or going for a walk) to regain control.
Get help if you're feeling low. Postpartum depression (PPD) affects 1 in 7 mothers. If you've had one episode of PPD, there's a 50 percent change of experiencing PPD with a second pregnancy. Dads can be affected by postpartum depression, too. If you're feeling depressed, get help. A doctor can help you find solutions to feel better and get back on track.
Connect with other moms and dads. They can relate with the ups and downs of new parenthood. Strike up a conversation with friends, or connect with your own parent. Join a parent support group available Orlando Health: Bootcamp for New Dads and Mothers Matter.
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