Bringing home a new baby for the first time is a daunting experience, and no matter how much you prepare, you still feel that it is inadequate. The good news is that you are not alone – moms and dads have been tasked with parenting since time immemorial and have felt the same way.
The parents that have been there before are, however, your best source of advice and information. There is nothing quite like experience to teach what it takes to be a new parent. Six top tips for new parents from parents include:
1. Be Prepared
This does not refer to the actual physical, mental, and emotional preparation that you can go through to plan for a new baby. Be prepared to make mistakes. Every parent has made a few mistakes along the way – some small and some big. You are going to make mistakes, but its how you recover and learn from these mistakes that will count in the long run.
2. The Bonding Experience
Don’t expect to bond with your new baby the moment it arrives into the world. Those doe-eyed new parents on TV and in movies are actors and portraying feelings that are often far from the truth. In reality, it can take time for both mom and dad to bond with the new baby. The latest research shows that this has something to do with oxytocin levels in the brain and body. The more a mom or dad interacts with the new arrival, the more oxytocin is released, resulting in the process of bonding. Bonding can occur the moment baby gurgles for the first time or gives a gassy smile. So give it time, and don’t worry too much if you haven’t formed that close bond you expected to feel immediately. Visit kindmommy.com to learn more about parenthood and how to bond with your new born. KindMommy.com is a website dedicated to parenting and motherhood.
3. Post-Natal Depression
In the past, this was referred to as the baby blues but can have severe consequences for mom, dad, and baby. Mom must seek medical help if she feels as if she can’t cope, has thoughts of hurting herself and the baby, or starts feeling anxious and having panic attacks. The condition is quite treatable with medication and should dissipate within a few weeks or months if treated correctly. It is just as important for dad to understand that this is a health condition that is out of mom’s control, which means giving her the loving support she needs and probably shouldering some extra parenting duties to allow mom to heal.
4. The Crying Baby
Babies communicate their needs by crying. If a baby’s needs are taken care of, there is no need for them to cry unless they are in pain. A baby will first make gentle noises and gurgles to let parents know that they are in need. If these needs are attended to quickly, they will not need to cry. If their needs are not attended to immediately, they will start to cry and learn that crying is the way to get what they want. So pay attention to the softer sounds and do the usual checks – is baby hungry, does he or she need to be changed, are they uncomfortable, do they have gas or do they need some attention. If all baby’s needs have been seen to and they continue to cry, pay a visit to your pediatrician to see if there is an underlying condition that your baby is trying to communicate to you.
5. Lack Of Sleep
Lack of adequate sleep is the number one complaint by new parents. “Sleep like a baby” is a false statement. Newborn babies wake up every two hours to be fed and more often if they have other needs. Also, most babies have days and nights reversed and tend to sleep more during the day than at night. There’s a simple reason for this. While in the womb, the rocking motion of mom moving around puts the baby to sleep during the day, and they are therefore more likely to be awake at night. This sets the sleep rhythm for after baby is born and can be very difficult to reverse. The best advice, especially for moms, is to sleep when the baby sleeps and only do as much as you can when the baby is awake.
6. The Shift In Focus
When a new baby arrives, all the focus and attention shifts to this tiny, needy little bundle of … well, moments of joy. Mom can feel the effects of this shift quite severely as while she was pregnant, all the attention was on her. Dad can also feel very left out of the equation if mom provides for all the primary care needs of the baby, leaving very little of her attention for dad. It is essential to understand that you are now a family, and the focus needs to be on the unit rather than one individual that forms part of the family unit. Although the baby is going to draw the main focus and attention, mom and dad need to take time to pay attention to each other and continue to do things that they did before the baby arrived. Date night should become a set rule from the get-go.
There is no doubt that parenting is probably the most challenging job that you will ever have to do. Always remember that you are doing the best that you can, and that, in itself, is a success no matter how many mistakes you make along the way.