The birth of the first child means a great change in life. It’s not only that you need to get used to sleepless nights and full availability. Many other things change and anxiety level rises. I’d like to share a few thoughts that may calm you down.
1. Many People Have Little or no Experience in Childcare
For a lot of people who’ve just had a baby, it is the very first time when they hold such a little person in their arms. The family model keeps changing – more and more of us have fewer siblings or cousins we could take care of. That is why it’s a good idea to attend childbirth classes, participate in parenting courses, use a doula’s help (they are professionals who help you go through the birth and the first months after), or read wise guidebooks.
Although inexperienced, you can still take care of your infant baby, and do it well. Just stay reasonable and sensitive. Imagine how the baby feels – they’ve just left a warm tummy for the world that is colder, louder, drier, and harder. Such a person feels safe in a warm embrace, they also need to suck, have their nappies changed, and clean clothes. And you can give them all of those things.
2. It’s Hard Being a Parent. Be Kind to Each Other
The emotional adaption to the role of mother or father takes time. In the first months after birth you learn how to take care of the baby, you try to follow the child’s development, you’re mentally and physically drained. You might feel bad about that. Feel that you’re not ready to be a father or mother. It’s normal. You wake up at night, and you’d really prefer to sleep on instead of feeding the baby? Every mother feels like that. You haven’t dreamt about your son or daughter yet, or sometimes forget that you have a child? Easy, other parents have moments like that too. It may seem that your friends are better at it, especially when they boast how their child sleeps through the night in their crib and wakes up happy as a lark. You don’t know if that’s true. Those stories might have been embellished. Just like the photos on blogs and in social media. Photographs show a dressed-up mom, or dad taking care of a sweet child all day long, spotless apartments… While your place – and relations – are in chaos? Remember: life is not a carefully set-up photo. Mom does not need to look like a model, dad probably has a lot of work and stress, and a house where a small child lives stays spotless only for the brief moment it takes to snap a photo.
You need to be more understanding – for yourselves and each other: father for the baby’s mother, and mother for dad. Talk things over, support each other, joke. It’s a difficult time and it’ll be easier to endure if you’re allies.
3. Infants Cry for Various Reasons, don’t Worry that it’s Something Bad
You should always react to baby’s crying, because it always means something. They can’t say: hug me, I’m bored, I can’t sleep, I’m a bit afraid. That’s why they cry. When they see and feel that you’re close, that you’re smiling at them, calmly look into their eyes, talk, hum, hug – they feel good.
Sometimes an infant keeps crying and a breastfeeding mom worries that they’re hungry. Usually unnecessarily, because if a baby keeps growing, regularly requires a nappy change and their development does not worry your doctor, everything is ok.
Some children need to be close to parents and their calmness more than others. Nothing is wrong with them, it’s just the way they are. They can benefit from a regular lifestyle and avoiding overstimulation, such as meeting with friends, shopping etc.
Occasionally, crying is a result of your anxiety. Little children absorb their parents’ emotions, detect their tiredness and anxiety. Analyse your emotions, perhaps that’s the answer?
4. Children Develop Fast. What’s a Problem Today, Stops being one Tomorrow
When you are with your child all day long (as most mothers are), you tend to focus all your attention on them. And even small difficulties grow out of proportion. For example, if a 3-month-old tenses at feeding and instead of sucking looks around, and the situation repeats during the next feeding, that mom thinks that the baby keeps refusing to eat. She begins to think that something’s wrong. Worried, she asks on the Internet what that’s about and immediately gets dozens of links to disturbing texts. After reading them, she’s convinced that it’s at least the increased muscular tension that affects her child.
Naturally, parents should keep an eye on their children. But also remember that they develop very quickly and their behaviors change as fast. Quick development means that a child suddenly discovers something and for a few days it’s the best thing in the world. Returning to our example: a 3 or 4-month-old begins to notice more details in their environment. During the day, they can’t focus on feeding, they look around and that leads to tensing and bending (“what’s that behind Mom?”). Less effective feeding at day means more nightly nursing sessions. After a while it should pass, because the child will focus on a new exciting discovery. So, I suggest approaching new types of behaviour calmly and with patience.
5. Select your Advisors Carefully, Trust your Intuition
Parents of little children are barraged with the so-called good advice: on diet, care, upbringing, health. It seems that everyone but you knows what’s best for your child… Avoid that situation. Select 2-3 persons you trust and talk to them when you have doubts about childcare. The pediatrician who knows your child could be one of them, the other someone close, who can understand your emotions, give you strength and make you feel better. Avoid people who damage your self-esteem. You’re parents, you have parent intuition now. Trust it.
6. Parent’s Needs are as Important as Child’s Needs
Although the infant is the center of attention, don’t forget about your needs. Not only the fundamentals such as sleep, good food, and rest. Childcare is exhausting and it’s easy to burn out. Make sure you do something fun, and different than pram walks and nappies. Don’t hesitate to ask family or friends for help – let them support you by taking care of the baby. Children need calm and happy parents. Take care of yourselves, even if it’s for their sake.