There is immense joy when new parents finally meet their little ones. It is a life-changing experience of holding the baby for the first time along with comforting and blissed-out cuddles. But, it is not just all smiles after meeting your first child.
The Pregnancy, Birth & Baby National Support Service reported that despite the magical and exciting moments that come with being new parents, it is very common to feel overwhelmed because of a plethora of unexpected realities and new challenges that you will encounter. Today, we will discuss the main struggles of new parents and ways on how to cope with those situations.
The Main Struggles of New Parents
Your new baby can be a bundle of joy to your family. However, this thrilling time can be also one of the most nerve-racking and disquieting situations that you will feel for several days, weeks, months, and years.
Despite the difficulties of taking care of a newborn and raising a child, it is still one of the most beautiful and meaningful moments in your life that you will experience with a wide spectrum of anticipation and hope. Being well-informed of the main struggles that most of the new parents experienced ahead of time can assist you when it comes to newborn care. Read the following points below:
Not Getting Enough Sleep
One of the primary causes of stress for parents of newborns is a thing called New Parent Exhaustion. A clinical study conducted that 50% of new parents get less than 6.5 hours of fractured sleep each night. Also, this level of sleep deprivation can cause similar mental impairment to be drunk.
Sadly, this type of exhaustion can trigger postpartum depression (PPD), a psychological condition affecting 10-15% of all new mothers and at least 25% of their spouses or partners. It can also lead to difficult issues such as breastfeeding problems, stress with your partner, and even infant deaths when exhausted parents try sleeping with their baby in their bed that can cause suffocation.
Here are some thoughts and experiences told by several mothers:
“I remember mornings when my entire body felt like it was going haywire: eyes twitching, limbs vibrating, stomach nauseous, head engulfed in fog. And evenings when I felt that sick feeling, almost fear, creep into the pit of my stomach as soon as the sun started to set, knowing that the nighttime circus of waking up every two hours to feed the baby would soon begin.” – Samantha, Blogger of Mother Haggard
“New mom life is super hard. I had my daughter 7 months ago and had to go back to work. Just yesterday I thought I was losing it because I cried dropping my daughter off. AGAIN. Postpartum is so much harder than I ever thought. I still feel like my emotions are raging at times.” – Lindsay
Difficulties in Breastfeeding the Baby
Breastfeeding is the best method that many health experts recommend in order to provide optimal nourishment to your baby. It can also increase your feelings of emotional and physical connection with your little one. However, most new moms experience difficulties while breastfeeding their babies.
Some of the common difficulties in breastfeeding the babies are having sore nipples, poor breastfeeding latch or the baby is not properly latched on, breast engorgement due to overproduction of milk, leaking breasts, clogged milk ducts, mastitis or a breast tissue infection, thrush, nipple vasospasm, low milk supply, etc.
Below are some statements from mothers in New York who experienced difficulties in breastfeeding:
“Latching was always excruciatingly painful. It was horrible. I felt angry because my experience didn’t align with my expectations. There must have been something I could have done and should have done. The lactation consultants said, ‘First, feed the baby; everything else we can work with.”- Meredith
“I shouldn’t have been so focused [on making nursing work]. You don’t always think so clearly after having a baby. I saw all those posters and how serene the babies are, and I pushed myself.” – Shahani
Setting Up New Routines
Before having a baby, both of you and your partner enjoyed spontaneous get-togethers and parties with your circle of friends. Perhaps you are a person who is determined to carefully plan meetings and outings for your family and friends. Well, setting up new routines for your family with a new baby can be challenging for both of you. There will be times that babies get fussy and irritated as they are often resistant to a daily and consistent routine.
Despite the difficulty in creating new routines and rituals for your little one, scheduling is an integral aspect that can assist the development of your baby’s brain. It can help him or her to tune into patterns by learning about order and sequence and to gain more advanced thought processes such as anticipation, judgment, and reasoning.
“I always say ‘sleep begets sleep’ and honestly think most newborns are chronically overtired. So good to help them get the sleep they need!”- Kate
“I started to look at the clock when the baby woke and then got upset. I realized I was keeping her awake too long. Even an hour was usually too long! I then stuck to shorter awake times more closely and the baby pretty much followed the routine on her own, with a little guidance from me. Naps are a wonderful thing! And I have a very happy baby who loves her sleep. My view now is that the baby helps set the schedule, mama helps her stick to it! And put them to bed when happy, not when getting overtired and upset.” – Hannah
Reduced Time With Your Spouse/Partner
Experiencing many struggles when you have a new baby such as lack of proper sleep, change in routine and lifestyle, and others can really impact your relationship with your spouse/partner. These factors can lead to tension and obstacles when it comes to setting some time together as couples try their best to focus on the well-being of their baby.
Talking with each other while relaxing can be sharply reduced and in time, it can alter the dynamics of a relationship. Perhaps lack of money can be another stress factor for couples. Adjusting your life on less income or one salary can be really hard and frustrating. Both sides may experience emotional problems due to the pressure of having to provide the necessities for the family.
“I was thinking, “Who have I married? Is he someone that watches TV every mealtime?” Yes, this was what Mike was, and I got really upset. I can see it with our baby Amy with more day-to-day things, particularly in the first year when she wasn’t sleeping through the night….I think it’s very difficult to de-program yourself when you have something so strong within you. But it’s only being married to Mike that has enabled me to see it, because he’ll pick up on it and challenge me.” – Jessie
How to Cope with Struggles of Being First Time Parents
According to the book Top Tips for New Parents, new parents need to learn first how to care for their baby so that they can be prepared for what to expect as they welcome their little one. Search for antenatal classes available in your local area or conduct a little research into several paid courses online. In this section, we share some ways that you can follow with your spouse or partner while coping with the struggles of having your first baby:
- Rather than watching the latest episodes of your favorite TV show, turn off your TV and other electronic devices at least half an hour before you go to sleep. Staring at a screen for too long can stimulate your brain and distract you from your tasks and dull sensitivity to your body’s signals of exhaustion. So, remember to sleep when the baby sleeps.
- Use a strong baby carrier or sling to help your child sleep whenever they like while keeping him or her in your arms free.
- Reach out to your family and friends for baby care so that both of you can have a break.
- Keep in touch with your health care provider if you need to learn more about serious sleep issues and feelings of depression, stress, or anxiety.
- Contact your baby’s pediatrician and a lactation consultant to guide you in proper breastfeeding. Or you can also call other moms in your local area that you trust and other friends and family who have experience in nursing a baby.
- Feed your baby every 1.5-2 hours during the day, then put him to sleep. Begin the nap before your baby is yawning and looking droopy-eyed.
- Wake up your baby for his or her next play or feed period if he or she naps over 2 hours. Long naps may lead to less daytime eating and more hunger at night.
- Before naps and bedtime, turn the white noise on and the lights down to quiet the nervous system of your baby.
- Between 10 pm and midnight every night, wake your baby for a “dream feed” to fill his stomach and prepare him for a longer sleep period.
- Make some time to talk when both of you are feeling calm. Listen attentively to each other and try to understand your spouse or partner’s point of view. Avoid criticism or blame.
- Try to fit or adapt some things you used to enjoy together into your new life which includes watching a movie or playing a game.
Vincent Van Gogh said: “I think that I see something deeper, more infinite, more eternal than the ocean in the expression of the eyes of a little baby when it wakes in the morning and coos or laughs because it sees the sun shining on its cradle.” Being new parents can be an exhilarating experience for both of you. But, there will always be some struggles that you need to overcome together. Remember to work together as you follow the aforementioned tips in this article as you give your best effort in taking care of your dear little one!