When The Reality Of Parenthood Hits: A Guide To The Early Days

Nothing can prepare you for the realities of parenthood. In the early days, it’s crucial that you look after yourself and lean on those closest to you for support.

You have probably spent the last 40 weeks preparing for the birth, acquiring all the baby paraphernalia, and organising your maternity and paternity leave. Most people are not prepared for what has been termed “The Fourth Trimester” and even if you know what’s coming, it can still be a shock.

Your baby will not want to be put down. He or she will be waking regularly during the night and feeding constantly around the clock. Everyday tasks will become almost impossible. You will be worrying about whether your baby is putting on enough weight, or getting enough skin-to-skin, and even checking they are still breathing at regular intervals! On top of all that, friends and family will be wanting to come and meet your new bundle of joy.

Particularly for new mothers, it may be difficult to accept help at first. Try to remember that leaning on others for support does not mean that you are not a good parent or that you can’t manage. Looking after a new baby is hard and you will be physically weak and vulnerable after the birth, so let your partner and immediate family do things for you.

At Thriving Parents, we help men and women transition to parenthood from early pregnancy to returning to work. We find that it’s common for couples to struggle with the division of labour in the early days, and with adapting to their new roles. Mothers often want to appear they have it all together when they need help, and Fathers often feel left out and unsure of what they can do to help.

Here are some of the challenges faced by one couple…

A New Dad’s Perspective

“The day my son arrived was the happiest day of my life. I held him for the first time and felt nothing but love for this tiny person. We arrived home from the hospital the next day and suddenly we were on our own. They don’t give you a manual for looking after a baby, you just have to figure it out as you go!

My wife was amazing and seemed to know instinctively what to do and how to care for him, while I felt a bit useless. For the first week I occupied myself by caring for her and keeping the house running – making cups of tea, bringing her breakfast in bed, and walking the dog. I also helped during the night by waking up to cuddle the baby, so that my wife could have a break and get some sleep.

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