Being a new parent is probably one of the biggest life-changing experiences you’ll ever go through, yet there is little to prepare you for the massive upheaval it will inflict on your lives.
Your GP and your midwife carefully monitor the 9 months of pregnancy; you have parent craft classes to instruct you on how to deliver your little bundle and look after your baby in the early weeks, but there is nothing to prepare you for the ‘hit-the-ground-running’ impact on your daily lives.
So what do first time parents think about their new role?
Our own Emma Kenny recently commented on a study carried out by Little Tikes®, focussing on the impact that having a baby has on first time parents.
It was amazing to see that 35% of new parents in the UK didn’t feel prepared for what hit them. Nearly half felt shocked at their new lifestyle, whilst many felt sleep-deprived, found bedtime an issue and the constant tidying up a drag. It’s a wonder sometimes how baby number two ever comes along.
Help is at hand!
There are some words of advice that can be offered to ease the way forward…
- Consider getting help during this time, although limit the amount of visitors, such as neighbours and relatives, initially. Not everyone spends a long time in hospital these days after the birth of their baby, so you might find yourself on your way home before you’ve had time to ask all those crucial questions.
- Make the most of your midwife in the first few days and the health visitor after that. A relative, such as grandma for instance, who has had their own children can offer good advice and help, even if it’s just taking your baby out for a walk in the pram whilst you jump in the shower or have a bit of ‘me’ time.
- A constant stream of visitors though, however much you want them to see your new addition to the family, can often interfere with you setting up a routine – don’t worry, they’ll understand if you don’t feel up to socialising.
- Remember, your new-born baby isn’t up to playing yet. They are fragile things at this age and shouldn’t be shaken or bounced up and down on your knee. Make sure you support their head at all times when moving around. They should always be secured with their head supported as well wherever you put them down, be it in the pram, car seat, cot or bouncy chair.
- Their immune system is only just developing, so don’t forget to wash your hands when you handle them and prepare their feeds. They will pick up enough infections along the way without you helping them!
- Bonding time – this is for both parents. Share the duties; the nappy changing, feeding (if using a bottle, of course!) and winding, bath time and bedtime. This is especially important to dad if mum is breastfeeding, so that not only does mum get a bit of rest in-between the feeds, but your baby gets to know dad as well. Cuddle them and talk or sing to them up close – they won’t understand you but will get to know your voice.
- Take advantage of your baby’s sleep time by getting crucial rest yourselves. This is often easier said than done as you feel the need to run around, tidying up and doing all those chores you know you have to do but can’t quite find the time to fit in.
It’s not all hard work
Even though first time parenting seems very daunting, you’ll be rewarded over time; that first smile will put everything into perspective and make your heart melt, as will every milestone they achieve along the way.
Believe it or not, things will fall into place. You’ll establish a routine and, in a few months’ time, you’ll be used to that little stranger who came into your life. There will always be something that comes along to try and disrupt the apple cart, like teething or the odd childhood illness, but you’ll find the strength to cope.
Being a parent is a blessing, not an imposition.