Impending parenthood is an exciting time.
It is joyous, magical, and usually has family, friends and everyone around the parents-to-be abuzz.
The miracle of creating a new life bubbles happily to the fore….
But it is not uncommon for the other side of one’s emotions to kick in – overwhelm, fear and maybe even terror! How will I manage? Will I be a good mum or dad? Will it be smooth sailing? Will I know enough to manage and guide this new little person? ….
The questions can go on and on…..
We have heard it said many times that babies don’t come with a manual – and that is certainly true! Others may tell us that raising a child is common sense – but how common is common sense? There really must be limitless things for a new parent to know and learn!
After speaking with many parents-to-be at the Pregnancy, Baby and Child Expo last weekend, it is clear that all of these emotions are part of the deal. What is important, however, is that parents-to-be understand that this sometimes tumultuous wave of emotions is ‘normal’!
In essence, pregnancy has its own unique emotional characteristics. Hormonal changes are a significant part of this, but it is natural to also feel a sense of overwhelm at the responsibilities associated with creating and nurturing a new human being.
Pregnancy and childbirth is a period of huge adjustment.
When the baby is born, your time as you know it will vanish – if it doesn’t seem to do that already! You will notice that routines associated with caring for your baby – feeding, changing, bathing, getting them to sleep – can all take an inordinate amount of time, and that is without looking after yourself or your partner!
Social connections can also take a back seat – because you are too busy, the baby needs a sleep, or you are too dog-tired! So if you are the social butterfly who enjoys going here, there, and everywhere, this might become a little more difficult! This is not to say you shouldn’t go out and take your baby with you. I encourage that as far as possible. However, you will need to be mindful of your baby’s needs when planning this – e.g. Sleeps, feeds, changing etc.
Given that pregnancy and childbirth is a time of adjustment, it is important that you consider your expectations – of yourself, your partner, your baby, and those around you. If you are someone who is accustomed to being extremely well organized and in control of things, this time could well be challenging – and character building!
Babies do not run on your timetable – they have their own!
Your expectations need careful consideration during this phase of your life – they need to be realistic and given that much of your time will be devoted to caring for your baby, there will things that just don’t get done! It is important that you re-assess what is most important, and leave the rest. If you house is not vacuumed as often as you would like, so be it – your baby won’t notice! If you and your partner enjoy gourmet meals, unless your partner can chip and do the cooking, they may not happen either.
The crux of the matter is that you will have less time and energy to do what you used to – so change your expectations now rather than running yourself into a screaming mess because you have failed to maintain your old patterns and expectations!
Being a new parent is difficult to prepare for emotionally, but allowing others to help you with whatever they can – be it chores, shopping, cooking etc., can lighten the load for you and bring others closer to your new and exciting world. So allow yourself to accept help and support – and if your supporters don’t do things the way you would, let it go, and be grateful for the help!
Tips for settling and enjoying your newborn:
Sleep is often a huge factor in the adjustment of a new baby – for baby and parents! Mums often suffer the most as they need to be up during the night to feed the baby. At best they are having broken sleep, so aim to have a nap during the day when your baby is sleeping to help manage your fatigue.
If the baby is unsettled and has difficulty sleeping, everyone feels it! This can be difficult for partners who need to go to work in the morning as well as for mums who still have to care for the baby during the day.
If your baby is unsettled it is usually distressing for the parents, and the first thing to work out is what is causing the disruption. If your baby has tummy or wind pain you can contact the pharmacists at Wilby’s Wind and Colic Mix (www.wilbyswindandcolicmix.com) – this is an organic mix and has found great success in helping to settle wind and colic. Babies who don’t sleep may benefit from the soothing sounds of lullabies, and the program offered by ‘Nigh Nigh Sleepy Head’ (www.nighnigh.com.au) is specifically designed for this. Research has also shown that Mum’s who listen to these lullabies in the last trimester tend to have more settled babies, and they can continue with the lullabies after the baby is born.
Settling your baby into a sound sleep routine is beneficial for everyone – we all know how difficult it is to function when we are sleep deprived!
Feed Your Energy:
Remember that it is crucial for you to look after you – because if you don’t, you can’t possibly look after your baby!
Here are some key tips to ensure your energy remains balanced:
1. Make sure you hydrate yourself well by drinking plenty of water.
2. Take time to exercise – even if it is taking your baby for a walk.
3. Eat nutritious food.
4. Take some breaks to relax – even sitting for 10 minutes with a cup of tea.
5. To even out your sleep, have a nap during the day when your baby is sleeping.
6. The best simple strategy for managing stress wherever you happen to be is to breathe in for three and out for three. Repeat this a few times and you will feel the stress releasing.
As you head into this exciting time, remember to maintain your personal balance as much as possible and enjoy the journey that is parenthood.