Pregnancy and parenthood are times of great change and it is common for new parents to experience a range of emotions, both positive and negative, in response to these changes. Many people find that having a new baby is more challenging than they anticipated.
Some of the challenges faced by new parents may include:
• Exhaustion from adapting to a demanding sleep/feed schedule
• Physical demands of breastfeeding
• Recovery from birth whilst caring for a newborn
• The demands of running a household while caring for a newborn
• Lack of confidence in your ability to understand baby’s needs
• Navigating the expectations and advice of family and friends
• Change to personal identity – loss of work role and status, loss of social life, loss of sense of freedom
• Change in your relationship with your partner
• Managing other children’s needs while also caring for a newborn
It is important to recognise and acknowledge both the joy and distress that can be experienced with a new baby.
It is also important to seek help when the challenges become overwhelming.
What can help:
• Keep realistic expectations – resist media representations of parenting
• Try not to be swamped by parenting information – have one or two trusted sources of independent information such as a GP, nurse, family member or friend
• Allow yourself time to learn through experience
• Take care of your own health, it is just as important as your baby’s
• Try to arrange some time out for yourself
Support in the community:
• Mother’s groups
• Local playgroups
• Parenting skills and support programs
• Child Health Nurses and Clinics
• Counselling services such as South West Counselling Inc
• Mental Health Services
• In-home support services
• Complementary health services
• Home assistance and nanny services
• PANDA (Perinatal Anxiety and Depression) helpline and website which provides counselling, referrals and peer support for mums www.panda.org.au
• Support and information for dads can be found at www.howisdadgoing.org.au
Parenthood can be a wonderful experience, but it also comes with unexpected challenges. There is no need to suffer alone. If you feel overwhelmed, anxious, scared or sad it is important to know that there is help available. Most of the difficulties faced by new parents can be resolved or alleviated with the right care, information and support.
For those concerned about their mental health or safety, contact your GP, Child Health Nurse, or the PANDA National Helpline (1300 726 306) for immediate access to appropriate specialist services.