Dr. Eileen Callahan, Ph.D.: New Child Stress / Postpartum

On Being a New Parent

No matter how prepared you are, no matter how many friends have alerted you to the imminent rise in stress, becoming a new parent brings challenges few handle impeccably. It is, quite literally, messy business. The addition of another person, another personality, another unique being with demanding, persistent requests is challenging; there is simply no way around it.

Giving yourself permission to learn as you go, know you will make mistakes, and be creative in how you can take care of yourself will be a whole new experience for you.  Below are some welcome tips from those who have been there:

  • My husband and I sleep in shifts. I go to bed early and he’s in charge until midnight. Then I get the midnight to 6:00am shift. The baby will eventually sleep longer stretches, but until then shifts work for us.
  • I realized grocery shopping without an infant is down-right relaxing. I looked forward to browsing and taking my time, after rushing through for months with a baby who might at any minute need a diaper change. So I go when my son goes to bed; shops are open very late and often almost empty. It’s the only way to get everything on my list in one outing!
  • My colicky baby only wanted to be walked up and down stairs.  It was exhausting. So I bought one of those step class kits to do at home, and put the step in front of the TV so I wouldn’t have to go up and down the staircase and risk falling. I got to work out and soothe my baby at the same time!
  • Eating together is for families with older kids. Save yourself; eat in shifts.
  • Double diaper at night. Trust me. Even if there isn’t a huge blow out, you can easily change them right in the crib without waking them up! When it’s time to toilet train, you can double sheet the bed, too!
  • Reading lengthy parenting books is for pregnancy. Who has the time once the baby comes? Below are quick reads that will make you laugh out loud and save your life.

    • The Diaper Diaries: The Real Poop on a New Mom's First Year
    • Sippy Cups Are Not for Chardonnay: And Other Things I Had to Learn as a New Mom
    • Pacify Me: A Handbook for the Freaked-Out New Dad

If the above books don't ease your angst, and your baby is several weeks old, don't be afraid to alert your doctor. Postpartum depression is a reality, not just the baby blues, but a serious condition that can be eased with medication and your ability to ask for what you need. Don't try to do everything yourself- ask for help. A therapist can help you with this transition, and he or your OB/GYN can determine if medication is necessary. You deserve to enjoy your baby, and your baby deserves a happy mommy. Take care of yourself.

This site cannot be used to initiate emergency contact. We cannot respond on-line to crisis situations. If you are in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-8255 (TALK)

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