Once your baby is born, you can expect lots of changes.
Looking after a newborn baby is a full-time job. It can take time to adjust to this stage. How you feel can change day by day.
You might feel strong and conflicting emotions, from excitement and happiness to worry. At times you might feel exhausted and doubt yourself.
It’s very common to have questions and concerns. You might worry about handling your new responsibilities, or how you will cope with tiredness.
Tips for parents of newborns from a public health nurse (PHN)
Your relationship with your partner
Your relationship with your partner will also change as you adjust to your new roles as parents. You may find that you have less time for each other.
You might have disagreements with your partner on decisions about your baby.
- listen to and respect one another’s perspective
- be flexible and let things go when you can
Take care of yourself
Learning how to be a parent is a big adjustment and takes time. It’s important to try and be kind to yourself, particularly in the early weeks and months after your baby is born.
It’s normal to sometimes feel overwhelmed, that you’re not doing a good job or that it’s hard to be with your baby all the time.
Pay attention to your own needs as well as your baby’s needs. This can include trying to:
- rethink priorities, this could mean less time on housework and putting some tasks on hold
- eat well
- get outside, even for a short walk
- rest when you can
- get help with practical tasks like groceries and laundry
- try to have time where you can relax, like having a bath
- ask friends and family for help to give you some time to look after yourself
After the first few months, life with your baby will settle down. You’ll get into a routine and begin to feel more confident.
Remember it is always okay to ask for help if you feel overwhelmed or feel you are not doing a good job. These feelings are very common for parents. Sometimes it only takes a kind listener to make things feel okay again.
If you find it hard all the time to be with your baby, this does not mean you are a bad parent. It means that this new relationship between you and your baby needs support. You also need support. It’s important than you ask for help.
How to cope with less sleep
Most new parents struggle with sleep deprivation. It’s normal for tiredness to make you feel:
- not yourself
- worried about being able to care for your baby
Young babies wake up very often. They tend not to know the difference between day and night. It can take babies at least 6 weeks or more to sleep for large periods of time. This can feel exhausting. Remember, this is just a phase. Things will settle.
Some ways to cope include:
- try to sleep when your baby is sleeping
- leave household jobs for now - prioritise getting some rest
- take turns with your partner for night-time feeds, if possible
- try to be patient and calm around your baby - remind yourself that they’re not keeping you awake on purpose