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Life with a newborn baby

Looking after a newborn baby is a full-time job. But you also need to look after yourself. Read tips on how to cope with tiredness and on life with a newborn.

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.

Related topic

Preparing for parenthood during pregnancy

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.

Try to:

  • listen to and respect one another’s perspective
  • compromise
  • 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.

Related topic

Attachment and bonding with your baby

Getting support

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.

Talk to your public health nurse or GP if you think you might have postnatal depression or anxiety. They can help you get support.

How to cope with less sleep

Most new parents struggle with sleep deprivation. It’s normal for tiredness to make you feel:

  • low
  • irritable
  • 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.

Related topic

Newborn sleep routine

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

Page last reviewed: 17/06/2019
Next review due: 17/06/2022