Being the parent of a new baby is a big responsibility. It is normal to not always know what to do. While learning how to care for your baby, chances are you will feel unsure of yourself, overwhelmed, and maybe a little frustrated. Watch, ask questions, and find out what works best for you.
There are classes through your local hospitals and clinics that you can take to help you learn about caring for your new baby. Baby books and websites for new parents can give you tips about newborn care. Don’t be afraid to ask for help from trusted relatives or friends. However, it's OK to try something different if the advice does not work for you. Each baby is different, and you are different parents than your friend or relative. If you are worried about your baby’s health, talk with your healthcare provider.
Showing your baby love and affection through feeding, holding, cuddling, playing, and diaper changing helps your baby feel secure. Babies learn about the world through their senses. Holding your baby gently but firmly helps him feel secure. You may worry your baby is fragile or that you will drop him. Don’t let your fears keep you from enjoying your baby. Close contact with your baby lets him know and trust you. Meeting your baby's needs also builds your confidence in your parenting skills.
When you are focused on being a new parent, it can be hard to “be there” for friends. You still need your friends, and they still need you. Spend time with them when you have the time and energy. Share what’s going on in each other’s lives. Friends can help you stay balanced and help you remember that you are more than “just” a parent.
Friends take time and energy—both of which are in short supply after you become a parent. Parenting may affect your friendships, especially during your baby's first couple of years. Be sensitive to how much talk about your baby your friends want to hear and don't overwhelm them.
While caring for your newborn, it’s helpful to be around other new fathers and mothers who may be going through many of the same things. You could join a parenting support group or find friends who also have small children.
You might want to talk with a financial planner about how to take care of your family now and in the future.
New parents tend to get less sleep because of the baby's sleep schedule. It's also stressful trying to protect and care for your baby, along with your usual daily activities. You may feel like there's no energy left for sex. In addition, a woman's body needs time to physically recover after giving birth. It’s normal for a mother’s sexual desire to be low in the first weeks or even months after the baby arrives. Be patient.
Sex can be a way to help relieve stress and remind you that you are still a couple. Take it a step at a time. Try to go to bed together at the same time. Talk with each other about the changes you are both going through and how to support each other. Even if you're too tired for sex, take time for touching and feeling connected. It may help to schedule time for the two of you. For example, “I’m too tired now, how about we set a date for Saturday night?” Hire a sitter or leave your baby with a close friend or relative, and go out with your partner.
A woman can get pregnant again just weeks after giving birth, even if breastfeeding. Using birth control gives your body time to recover and allows you time to enjoy your new baby.
The emotions of being a new parent range from joy to panic. If you feel frustrated, depressed, angry, or otherwise unable to take care of yourself or your baby, talk with your partner, a trusted friend or relative, a counselor, or your healthcare provider. If you ever feel like shaking or hurting your baby, stop, put him in a safe place, and take a quiet break to calm yourself. Call a friend or relative for support or to take care of your baby for a little while. NEVER shake a baby.
Some women feel sad or weepy at some point during baby’s first year, often referred to as the “baby blues”. This is caused by hormone swings, lack of sleep and lifestyle changes. For most women these baby blues are mild and go away within a few weeks. Depression related to pregnancy and childbirth lasts longer, is more severe, and makes it hard to manage your daily tasks. It may be called postpartum depression. Symptoms may include:
If you have any of these symptoms and they don’t go away within a couple weeks, it’s important to get treatment as soon as possible.