Updated: May 29
Congratulations on the arrival of your new bundle of joy! Adjusting to life with a newborn baby can be both exciting and overwhelming. With sleepless nights, endless diaper changes, and a new routine to get used to, it's natural to feel a little unsure of how to navigate this new chapter in your life. However, with some helpful tips and a little bit of patience, you can learn to adjust to your new life with your little one and create a happy, healthy, and fulfilling family dynamic. Dr Karola Belton, the Parents You've Got This Psychologist Expert shares some practical advice to help you navigate the ups and downs of life with a newborn and make the most of this special time.
Tips for adjusting to parenthood
Finding your new normal
Be gentle with yourself and remember that it takes time to adapt to each ‘new normal’, so ease yourself back. Work out what feels most comfortable and start from there. But it’s also important to gently challenge yourself to try something different every few days or every week. For example, start with short park meet-ups initially and add in more as your confidence grows. Schedule outings so they don’t overlap with feeds or naps if you are nervous about feeding in public or anxious about trying to settle your baby around others. With time and practice, you’ll get the hang of all of it, but it can be overwhelming at first. Try to find a balance between what feels comfortable and daunting but is actually good for you. The ‘daunting but good for you’ activities are those that give you social connection, exercise, a break from your baby, and a change of scenery, and it’s worth gently pushing through your discomfort to get there.
Communicate your boundaries
Establish boundaries with family and friends about your baby. Being around more people now means having to think about a range of new issues – like how to socialise and be appropriately socially distant, who gets to cuddle your baby, how to remind people to sanitise their hands, how to parent your way amidst a ton of advice from well-meaning others. Having these conversations can certainly feel daunting, and perhaps not everyone will agree with you (remember, you don’t need them to agree with you to abide by your wishes). If it helps, defers to the experts and cite the advice from your OB, paediatrician, GP or maternal health nurse. Ultimately boundaries help reduce your stress; they place you firmly in charge and help everyone understand what you need from them. Setting healthy boundaries helps you take care of yourself and your baby.
Create daily routines
The value of routines (apart from helping us get things done) is they help create a sense of safety and predictability. A daily routine can help motivate you to practice uncomfortable things. For example, a morning walk to your favourite café for coffee and then strolling through a local park may give you the confidence to tackle the busy supermarket. Try and vary the routine every few days to give you practice encountering different people and situations.
If you don’t like how you feel, please reach out for support.
GP & Psychologist – See your GP for a referral to see a psychologist. Telehealth options are currently available for both GP and psychology appointments.
PANDA - Perinatal Anxiety & Depression Australia. National Helpline 1300 726 306
Their website has a wealth of information and resources for expecting and new parents.
24-hour Maternal & Child Health Line 13 22 29
Dr Karola Belton is the Parents You've Got This Psychologist Expert and presents at the Starting Solids and Infant Essentials Masterclass.