Everyone has a limit for how much they can cope with at any one time. This admission might worry you that others will hit the panic button or, perhaps worse, tell you to “suck it up”. Either way, it’s not great. If you’re feeling unable to cope as a parent, you’re not alone and you deserve a kind and caring response. Here are five tips to help you think about coping as a new parent:
1. Be gentle with you
It takes time for you and your baby to get to know one another and you’ll find yourself questioning if you are “doing the right thing”. This is normal.
Be wary of your expectations of yourself and recognise that the first few months with your newborn will ask a lot from you – time, sleep, patience and love.
2. Prioritise sleep & rest
When it comes to your mental health, getting enough rest and sleep is essential but with a newborn your sleep patterns will be disrupted for a little while.
Cut yourself some slack and do what works when it comes to getting enough rest e.g. Give yourself permission to sleep when bub is sleeping.
Remember that making your sleep a priority might mean changing your daytime plans after a string of ‘bad’ nights. Again, be gentle with you and do what you need to take care of yourself.
3. Know who can help
Make a list for the fridge. List the people you trust & numbers you can call if you have concerns about yourself or your baby.
Remember, Dr Google = parental anxiety for a lot of us. If in doubt ask a professional for advice.
4. Be careful of the mask
Give your friends and or family permission to check in with you about how you are actually going.
Pretending you’re okay is a very lonely place and you do not have to stay there. Your partner, support person, GP or midwife can help you understand what you are feeling and what you can do to start feeling less alone and less scared.
5. Recognise what you’re coping with
It’s huge. Unlike any other time in life, becoming a parent means major changes in friendships, work, intimate relationships and relationships with family, your body, physical wellbeing and personal identity. Not to mention that it happens all at once.
If you’re having a hard time, there’s a reason for it. Be so gentle with yourself and know that you aren’t alone. You don’t have to suffer in silence and help is available.
If you are concerned about how you are feeling as a new parent, don’t suffer in silence. Especially, if your worry or stress is getting in the way of your ability to rest or sleep, it’s time to get help and good help is available.
At Marsden Clinical Psychology in Woonona and Wollongong, Dr Rachelle Jones works with new parents who need someone safe to talk to about their experiences. She accepts self-referrals as well as referrals from GPs and specialists. If you have a Mental Health Treatment Plan you may be eligible for a rebate from Medicare on psychological therapy sessions.
Written by Dr Rachelle Jones.