Being a new parent is a beautiful yet, exhausting transition stage. What many people don’t acknowledge is that as well as welcoming a new person into the world, who is utterly dependant on the two of you.
Goodbye blissful co-existence, hello co-management in a stressful situation with a healthy dollop of sleep deprivation thrown in. I’m not a trained expert on the topic, but I have been there and there are some steps you can take to plan for a reasonably stress-free time.
We have put together our top five tips to give you the confidence on caring for your new born baby in the first weeks.
Breastfeeding isn't for everyone
Breastfeeding is wonderful, but it doesn’t necessarily come naturally. If you’re a first time mum, knowing how to breast feed can seem daunting. The NHS provide comprehensive support on all you need to know on breastfeeding. If you would prefer to attend courses, the NCT have a list of antenatal courses that are available in your area.
Make sure you rest
Get as much rest as you can before the happy event. That goes for both of you. The reality is that those thrice-nightly preggy lady-loo calls are great practice for sleepless baby nights, men don’t have that. Plus carrying a small one round for 40-weeks could be described as high-altitude’ training. Some (the operative word being ‘some’) women feel a new lease of life once they give birth, men don’t have that either.
Don't be afraid to ask for help
Draft in family and friends, their moral as well as practical support can be invaluable. Parenting a newborn can feel overwhelming when it’s just the two of you. Say yes to all offers of help, don’t be afraid to ask. Try and have people popping in most days after the birth to help with practicalities. Breastfeeding is hugely time consuming at the start, your partner will probably be exhausted so having extra help on hand will be invaluable.
Think laterally about this one, look at where your family’s strengths lie: does your sister love to cook, but is super-busy during the week? Maybe she could cook some meals for your freezer. Does your Dad hate housework but love to write? Then he could help with present thank-you letters. Even someone popping in to hold your little one whilst you and your man enjoy some much needed time together is a pure godsend, and who doesn’t want to hold a newborn?
Don't get sucked into parenting politics
The seemingly cosy world of parenting is hugely political and a potential source of heated ahem, disagreements between mum and dad. The fact is, once you’re in it it’s hard to find time to discuss your parenting position. Believe me, when baby’s asleep you’re either asleep, watching a film, reading or doing whatever it is you do to find some head space: the last thing you’ll want to do is talk about parenting. Before you give birth, earmark one evening meal to have a proper chat. Some questions to ask…
- What are our expectations about sleeping through the night?
- What are our roles? Who does the cooking? The cleaning? Etc
- How can we create some us-time (or date-night if you’re coming over all American)?
- How can we support breast feeding?
- How much do we want our parents and in-laws to be involved? Where are the boundaries and how will we support each other in protecting them?
Take time out together
Be aware of each other’s needs and give yourselves time-out. That may not mean leaving the house, but a long hot bath or an hour of uninterrupted sport watching can do wonders for your tolerance levels.