- It’s the side eye of disapproval from the lady standing in front of you at the grocery store when your hungry, swaddled newborn wakes up and begins to wail.
- Or, the “When I raised my kids, I would never have let them…” from a well-meaning aunt.
- Add in the bounce-right-back-after-pregnancy Instagram influencer with the “perfect” family pics of the perfectly clean home and the perfectly dressed newborn sleeping contently in the middle of a magazine-cover-perfect smiling family.
- And then you, standing in front of the mirror at 5 a.m. after another night without sleep, wondering who the stranger is that’s staring back at you.
The pressures of new parenting are real. Some land on your doorstep and knock incessantly, while others are an enticing scroll and a swipe away. There’s always an opinion, advice, or someone doing it better that can get you tied up in a knot, wondering how parenting could be so hard.
When you don’t feel like you measure up, talking openly about your struggles can be tough. Here are some of the common areas where new parents struggle.
1. Not bonding with your baby
Bonding with your baby should be automatic, right? Not necessarily. A 2016 UK survey found that nearly a third of new moms surveyed found bonding with their newborns difficult.
It’s easy to assume that not bonding right away means that something is wrong, especially since no one really talks about it, but adjusting to life changes takes time. Having a baby is a big life shift, so be patient and kind to yourself while you get to know your baby.
Here are a few ways to begin the bonding process:
- Skin-to-skin contact, or “chest-to-chest,” enhances bonding by releasing oxytocin, or the “love hormone.” [Crowe]
- Hold, talk, and sing to your baby [Raising Children.net].
- Stare into your baby’s eyes and make cooing sounds so they can hear your voice.
- Read and have cuddle time often.
These actions can be helpful for mom, dad, and siblings. Bonding will come. Just give it time.
2. Difficulty Breastfeeding
Most moms can’t just place their babies on their breasts and expect perfect feedings. It just doesn’t work that way.
If you’ve chosen to breastfeed and are having trouble, it’s okay to ask for help. Most hospitals and birthing centers have lactation consultants, or you can find support through organizations online.
Lactation consultants can support your breastfeeding experience with patience and empathy. They can also help with challenges like latching on, discomfort, or milk production issues.
Despite some of the challenges, remember that you are not alone. With the proper support, your baby will follow their instincts and likely meet you halfway. Ask for help so that you can have the best possible experience for you and your baby.
3. Postpartum Depression
Feelings of sadness and/or disconnection after your baby’s birth should never be ignored. Postpartum depression affects 1 in 7 women, so you want to make sure that what you are feeling isn’t more than just a mild shift in mood as your hormones get back to normal.
Your newborn is important, and so are you, so it is critical that you make sure that your mind, body, and emotions are in balance and are top priorities.
Talking to your doctor and a family member you can trust about your mental and emotional health If you are depressed. Sharing your feelings openly can open the door to the help you need.
If you ever feel like hurting yourself or your baby, you should call 911 or your doctor immediately.
4. Everybody has a “right” opinion
When you become a parent, you realize that suddenly everyone has an opinion about everything. From swaddling to binkies, from strangers to family members, everyone knows something about something when it comes to parenting.
Even when opinions are not welcome, try to remember that most people are genuinely trying to be helpful. Do your own research, take into consideration what others suggest, and decide as a family what’s best.
Parenting is hard at all stages. Just keep putting one foot in front of the other and try to remember that learning how to parent doesn’t happen overnight. Everyone has to go through the learning process to figure out what works best for them and their unique needs.
If you need assistance day or night, please reach out to us. We offer postpartum doulas, night nannies, and sleep training specialists. 303-717-1841 or Info@nightowlnannycare.com
Click here for Part II of this blog series.
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