Settling into parenthood: Easy tips to help you adjust

Anyone who has ever been a parent knows that one tiny baby can instantly change your life forever. The arrival of your newborn will foster countless wonderful memories, yet, along the way, you will naturally encounter some roadblocks. Part of this is inevitable because babies cry, get sick, and sometimes don’t eat. However, distress can build from new parents putting too much pressure (and resulting stress) on themselves.

It’s important to remember that learning to become anything takes an adjustment period. You can read everything there is to know about parenting during the pregnancy period, but nothing will ever fully prepare you for the first few nights, weeks, and months at home with your child. Becoming a parent is a trial by fire, but gradually, you will get to know everything you need to know about that delightful little baby.

“Understanding that the transition to parenthood can be challenging and allowing yourself some emotional space to face those challenges is important,” says Dr. Deena Blanchard, a mom of three and pediatrician at Premier Pediatrics. Here are Dr. Blanchard’s tips to create a positive experience as you transition to parenthood:

You can’t control everything

Wouldn’t it be amazing if babies came with recipes, and you knew if you just put in the right ingredients and time it would all work out? Being a type-A person myself, coming to terms with the lack of control that parenting brings was really hard for me.

Newborns are often unpredictable. You may do the same thing you did the day before but get a different result. The more you can wrap your head around and accept the randomness of infants, the easier this transition will be.

Plan ahead

While you can’t control everything about parenting, there are some things you can plan for that will make your life easier. For example, you can choose your pediatrician before you have your baby. Knowing that you’ve met with and selected the doctor who will play a key role in helping you transition to parenthood can be very soothing.

Choose a pediatrician who you feel will partner with you and who you feel genuinely cares. Never feel like you are being rushed or unable to ask all your questions.

Create your village

Previously, when women had babies, they were often near their mothers, aunts, and siblings who would help them. In this global world, we now often need to create our own villages. Join a mom group, whether online or in person. Having friends who are going through the same stages of parenting that you are and that are supportive is priceless. Your village may also include your pediatrician, doula, lactation consultant, and family.

It’s your personal village, there is no “right” way to create it. The most important thing is to surround yourself with empathic, supportive, and helpful people. You will be thankful you can transition to parenthood with help from the experts and those who have been through it. This will also allow you to scream for support (to get sleep or even a shower!), or rest easy just knowing it is there for you!

Ask for help

Your family, partner, and best friends may be the most amazing people on earth, but they cannot read your mind. You don’t need to “do it all.” There is no shame in asking for help. In fact, you will likely be a better and more emotionally available parent for doing so.

Be direct when asking for help. For example, you can ask someone to please bring dinner or do the laundry or hold the baby, so you can shower. You get to decide what kind of help you need and ask for it. Taking care of yourself both emotionally and physically is a great gift to your little one.

Best-laid plans can change

It’s great to have a plan for how you want to give birth or feed your baby. By preparing with classes and talking to your healthcare providers ahead of time, you will increase the likelihood that these plans will happen. Understand though, that sometimes, no matter how much you want and prepared for something, when dealing with the human body, it may not turn out exactly the way you imagined.

Try to be flexible. Reframe your thinking. If your birth plan didn’t turn out exactly as planned, it’s okay to feel disappointed but understand it’s not your fault. Avoiding self-blame when hiccups or bumps occur on the road of parenting is extremely important.

Baby blues are normal

There is this pressure to always be happy; after all, you just had this adorable baby. The reality is, more than 80 percent of women will have baby blues in the first two weeks after giving birth. Another 30 percent will have a postpartum mood disorders.

Feeling down, sad, anxious, or any other feeling that isn’t sheer glee is normal, and there is no shame in it. If you do feel great, that’s awesome, but if you don’t, please speak up to whomever you feel most comfortable with.

“The First Month” Premier Pediatrics program allows families to have affordable and easy access to breastfeeding, emotional, and parenting support. Learn more at premierpedsny.com.

Danielle Sullivan, a mom of three, has worked as a writer and editor in the parenting world for more than 10 years. Sullivan also writes about pets and parenting for Disney’s Babble.com. Find Sullivan on her blogs, Just Write Mom and Some Puppy To Love.

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