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New Parents

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.

Settling in

  • You may want to take parental leave if it is available to you. Remember there are few things at work that can’t wait, but your child is only a newborn once. Both parents may want to take leave for a week or two after mom and baby get home from the hospital.
  • Ask family members or friends to help with shopping, cleaning, or cooking. Let others help you with chores rather than trying to do everything yourself.
  • You and your partner need to figure out how to share chores and how to take care of your baby. Holding and talking to your baby, and making eye contact increases the attachment you and your child feel for one another. If your baby is breast-fed, the father can bring the baby to the mother at feeding time whenever possible. If your baby is bottle-fed, take turns feeding. Both parents can take turns changing the baby's diapers.

Health

  • Get as much rest as you can. You need sleep to restore your energy. Nap when your baby does.
  • Take care of yourself. Try to eat right and exercise, even though your schedule may be thrown off. Ten minutes of walking or other exercise can be a good start. Even though your baby is now your priority, still make time to do things that you like. Taking care of yourself helps you relax, stay fit, and take care of your baby.

Support

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 is 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.

Sex

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 remember 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.

Emotions

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 to your partner, with a trusted friend or relative, a counselor, or your healthcare provider. If you ever feel like shaking or hurting your baby, stop, put the baby in a safe place, and take a quiet break to calm yourself. Call a friend or relative for support or to take care of the baby for a little while. NEVER shake a baby.

Developed by RelayHealth.
Pediatric Advisor 2015.2 published by RelayHealth.
Last modified: 2014-09-29
Last reviewed: 2014-09-29
This content is reviewed periodically and is subject to change as new health information becomes available. The information is intended to inform and educate and is not a replacement for medical evaluation, advice, diagnosis or treatment by a healthcare professional.
Copyright ©1986-2015 McKesson Corporation and/or one of its subsidiaries. All rights reserved.
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