Survival Tips for Parents of a New Baby

Most parents of newborns have a lot of ups and downs. You feel happy, proud, and excited in one day. You feel sad, lonely, or depressed the next. Don't worry, that's just the "after-baby blues."

What brings on the "after-baby blues?" It could be that:

  • As a new Mom, the "after-baby blues" are part of the changes your body goes through after birth.
  • You got lots of attention before the baby came. Now, the baby is getting all that attention. You feel a little left out.
  • You worry that something will happen to your new baby.
  • You worry that something will happen to you.
  • If you are a Dad of a newborn, watching your partner get the "after-baby blues" can give you the blues.

You might be asking, "How am I going to deal with all these changes and new feelings?" A good way to start is to take care of YOURSELF.

Getting Some Sleep

You need to get plenty of rest, especially in the first few weeks. Try to:

  • Ask someone close to you to help out while you rest. Be sure you ask someone you get along with and trust.
  • Keep visits from relatives and friends short — unless they come to help you out.
  • Let some things go for a while. Sleep is more important to you right now than a clean house. The dishes will wait!

Getting enough sleep is a problem for all parents. Newborns sleep about 15 to 16 hours a day. But, babies sleep on a different schedule than adults. They take lots of "naps." A two-week-old baby will only sleep for 3 or 4 hours before waking up to be fed. By four months, some babies will sleep up to 8 hours at a stretch. But other babies can take even longer to learn to sleep through the night.

YOU STILL NEED YOUR SLEEP. If your baby likes to sleep during the day and is awake at night, try to:

  • Bathe the baby in the early evening. This will help the baby stay up while you are awake and sleep longer while you are asleep.
  • Set up a bedtime routine - singing, hugs and kisses. Follow this routine every night. Soon, your baby will learn that being in bed means going to sleep.

By using these tips, you can help your baby form sleep habits that make you happy. In the meantime, sleep when the baby sleeps.

Taking Time For You

A baby can take over your life! Your baby depends on you for everything. A few simple steps can help you stay in control:

  • Ask For Help When You Need It. Ask someone you trust to watch the baby while you take time away.
  • Do Something You Really Like When Your Baby Is Sleeping. Take a bath. Read a book. Watch TV. Listen to the radio. Exercise. Get some sleep!
  • Don't Expect To Be Perfect. The super-parents you see on TV are not real people. Everyone makes mistakes.
  • Get Out Of The House. Take your baby along. A short walk to the store or a visit to a friend can work miracles.
  • Find Another Parent To Talk To And Do Things With. Other new parents will understand you. You can have a good laugh - or a good cry- together.
  • Remember That You Are In Charge Of Your Baby. You may not agree with the advice of relatives or friends. Follow your own feelings. Or ask your doctor or nurse. There's no such thing as a "dumb" question.

Some Special Notes For Moms

Your body has been hard at work for the past nine months. If you feel like you deserve a break, it's because you do!

There are three things you can do to feel better faster: Get Enough Sleep. Eat Right. Exercise.

Eating right is very important. Are you breastfeeding? Your doctor, nutritionist or nurse-midwife can give you the best advice about what you should eat to nourish your baby. Some basic rules for all Moms are:

  • Eat Three Meals A Day. Eat the foods you like. Be sure to eat some foods from these four lists:
    1. Milk, cheese, ice cream, yogurt, or other milk products. If you have allergies to milk, ask about other foods to eat.
    2. Fish, nuts, meats, and eggs.
    3. Fruits and vegetables.
    4. Pasta, rice, oats, whole grain breads, grits.
  • Drink Plenty Of Water, Juice, And Milk.
  • Do Not Drink Things That Contain Caffeine (Coffee, Tea And Some Kinds Of Soda), If You Are Breastfeeding. Your doctor will tell you not to drink alcohol, smoke or use illegal drugs.
  • Ask For An Easy Exercise Program. You will lose weight gradually.
  • Talk To Your Doctor About Diabetes. If you developed diabetes during your pregnancy, it will go away after your child's birth. However, you may develop diabetes in the future. Make sure you are tested for diabetes, especially if you become pregnant again.

An Important Word About Postpartum Depression

Postpartum depression is a special problem that all mothers need to know about. Many mothers have the "after-baby blues." But, if you always feel sad and never have any energy, you could have postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is a physical and emotional problem that can be treated. Call your doctor, nurse-midwife, county health clinic, or public health nurse. They can help you. Be sure to get help if you are really feeling depressed.

Dads Can Help With Baby Care

Many new Moms are afraid to let Dads take care of the baby. Dads are parents, too. Some Dads jump right into the act. Other Dads aren't sure what to do. Many men never have a chance to get to know a baby until their own babies are born. So for Dads, a baby can be exciting and scary at the same time.

You can help your partner learn about babies. Ask him to change the diapers, dress the baby, and give the baby a bath. Dads can be wonderful at gently rocking a baby to sleep for the night. Tell your partner when he's doing a good job with the baby.

Some Special Notes For Dads

Dads have so much to offer their babies. Some Dads feel a little shy about helping out with the baby, at first. Don't be! Changing diapers, getting the baby dressed are great ways to get to know your baby.

Sometimes, Dads have to work harder to be a part of their babies' lives. Doctors and nurses often pay more attention to Mom and the baby. Tell them that you want to give your baby good care and you want to learn how. Ask questions.

Remember, your baby needs your love. A Dad's love and care make babies feel good and secure. Also:

  • Children need to know that men take care of children, too. By taking care of your new baby, you are teaching your children that men make good parents.
  • It's good for your baby to learn what men are like. Your baby will like hearing your deeper voice and will feel safe in your larger arms and hands.
  • Your partner needs your help and support, too. Tell her she's doing a good job with the baby.

Take Time For Each Other

Many new parents think that having a baby will make them feel closer than ever. Sometimes, it does. Many parents also feel like their relationship is being put to the test. It's harder to get along when you are tired. You don't have much time for each other. Do you feel like all the romance is gone? Remember, you really do need each other.

  • Find some time to be alone together. Talk to each other. Share your feelings about being new parents — the good and not-so-good things.
  • Make a date with each other. Get someone you trust to take care of the baby. Go out. Have some fun!
  • Be good to each other. You both need extra love and attention right now. And don't worry — your love life will get back to normal.