Becoming a parent is a lifelong goal for many, believing it is written deep within their DNA.
I was NOT one of those people.
When I became a parent, there was a huge learning curve. One person would tell me I was spoiling my baby by holding him too much. Another person would tell me to strap the kid to my body and hold him as much as possible. Although there is a lot of help and information (and opinionated people…) out there to support new parents, all that “help” can feel less helpful and more overwhelming, making the newborn stage that much more daunting. If I could go back in time and talk to myself as a new mother, I’d tell myself to KISS: keep it simple, Steph.
Ask for/accept help
Accepting help does not come naturally to my husband. He will run himself ragged before admitting he needs a hand. As new (exhausted, overwhelmed, did I mention exhausted) parents, we quickly learned to graciously accept any and all help family and friends threw our way. It wasn’t easy, but it was for our sanity. You wanna fold my laundry? YES. Make us dinner? FANTASTIC. Hold this child so I can sneak in a 30-minute cat nap or a hot shower? PLEASE. We’re only as good to our children as we are to ourselves. Remember that.
Trust your gut
Parenthood can be a scary time for many new parents, especially in the first few months. It can be easy to doubt yourself or think you are doing everything wrong because it’s so new. But you’ve done new things before! WE CAN DO HARD THINGS, so I beg of you: trust your gut. If you truly think something is wrong, consult a professional, not a great auntie. But mostly, don’t be afraid to believe and trust in yourself. It may not feel like it sometimes (because HORMONES), but remind yourself that you are doing ok. You’ve got this!
Get enough sleep & rest
People will tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps, and while that’s valid advice, I have a feeling many of you will instead choose to wash the millions of pooped-in onesies and blankets. Or clean the house. Or make a meal. Or maybe just sit and read a book or binge Netflix. And you’re allowed to do it all however you want. BUT…don’t underestimate what your body has gone through if you carried and delivered a tiny human. You all need rest. Learning to roll with the punches was the most difficult thing for me, being typical first-born Type A gal. My husband and I learned to tag-team our tiny creation, caring for him in shifts, which allowed me to get some much-deserved rest. The sleeping patterns of a newborn baby usually disrupt a regular sleep routine for a bit, but it doesn’t last forever, so says Surviving The 6-Month Sleep Regression: Tips From The Experts. And me. I say so, too.
Consider secondhand items
Okay, so this tip isn’t necessarily helping the baby, but it is helping your bank account. Listen, babies grow ridiculously fast. It’s actually rude how fast they grow. And I get it: as new parents, we’re super excited to dress our new bundle like the baby doll they are, but simmer down. Grab yourself some secondhand items, start a hand-me-down chain with neighbors, or buy as little as possible to save money. Please hear me when I say your little angel is going to poop, pee, puke, and drool all over their clothes. Doesn’t a $40 diaper/bib sound silly?
Set aside time for yourself
Rolling your eyes yet? Like there’s ANY time for yourself? I’m not suggesting a long weekend away, but a warm bath to relax, a yoga class to unwind, a massage to decompress–these things are doable and your body and mind will thank you. Even a quick (and quiet) 5-minute coffee break can help reset a crazy day. Don’t be afraid to leave the baby crying (safely) in their crib so you can finish lunch or an episode of Ted Lasso. Just make sure you take time for yourself.
Communicate through words & actions
Communicating with your newborn baby is an important part of being a parenting. Although they may not be able to communicate back to you at this moment in time, their tiny little brains will be absorbing all the new information and experiences you provide them. Talk to them as much as possible! Use exaggerated facial expressions and silly voices and I promise that first sweet giggle you elicit from your baby is worth it.
Connect with other parents of newborns
A great tip for any new parent is to find others with newborns. This way not only will your child be able to socialize with other children of their age, but you will be able to start creating an extremely useful, and often supportive, network of other parents. You can compare experiences and routines and share tips and tricks. This will be beneficial for both you and your child on many different levels. I was fortunate enough to live near other families with newborns when I first became a parent and those relationships and connections were a lifeline for me. I didn’t realize it at the time, in the thick of things it’s difficult to understand their impact. But looking back, I fully appreciate how we served one another when we needed it most.
The newborn stage can be a magical time full of love and joy. It can also be a joyless time full of confusion and guilt. If the latter feelings persist, please
- Call or text “Help” to the Postpartum Support International helpline at 1-800-944-4773 for PPD information, resources, and support groups for women, partners, and supporters.
- Contact a medical professional. See below for signs that it’s time to ask for help: