Adjusting to Parenthood
Becoming a parent is such an exciting time in your life! But as with anything, it comes with its share of stresses and challenges. The transition into parenting is one that occurs over time. Be kind to yourself. Always allow for space to grow and learn as parent.
Karitane Tip: Adjusting to parenthood can be more difficult for some than others. Both mums and dads may experience signs of a mood disorder during pregnancy or after birth – like anxiety, panic, or depression. These are common, and nothing to be ashamed of. For guidance on when to seek help, see How do I know if I need professional help? in the FAQs below.
Adjusting to Parenthood
Parenthood involves inevitable changes. Be prepared for a tiring first few weeks as you constantly learn new skills, adjust to the needs of your baby, and shift roles with your partner – all while maintaining household, social, and work routines on a lot less sleep.
In addition to these changes, you may experience unpredictable emotions common to your role as a new parent. These can include great joy and excitement and overwhelming stress and pressure. Try not to be too worried by these mood swings; many are because of the constant adjustments you’re facing and the impact they have on ‘normal’ life.
Parenting today isn’t the same as it was. Families come in all shapes, sizes and styles.
Common realities of adjusting to parenthood:
- Night waking
Research tells us most babies wake every 2-3 hours, day and night. In addition to that approximately 30-40% of infants from six months to four years wake 1-2 times overnight.
- Changing lifestyle
Parenthood means a change in lifestyle for many new parents. Your priorities may be different, and time to yourself may be less.
- Changing identity
You may struggle with losing your sense of self – as a partner, colleague or friend.
- Changing relationships
Sometimes it takes a while to figure out your new role; how you and your partner fit together as parents.
Sourced from Raising Children.
The birth of your first baby is one of the biggest life transitions you’ll ever experience. What Were We Thinking offers information on shared experiences in the early months of parenthood, and shares some ways to deal with these issues. You can also download a series of worksheets to complete independently or with your partner – which can be helpful as you both become parents.
This is a wonderful video to help you start thinking about how you can adjust to becoming a parent. VIDEO: REFLECTIONS
- Be flexible
Both in your approach and everyday expectations. You can’t plan for everything; your baby may be sick or need changing just as you’re about to leave the house. These things happen.
- Keep communicating
Share feelings, ideas and expectations with your partner as you adjust to your new roles.
- Plan couple time
If it’s difficult to organise a babysitter, host a date night at home.
- Rest when you can
Sleep should be a priority. Find time to rest when your baby does.
- Prioritise household chores
You may need to rethink your household schedule. This can include doing only the important tasks, asking for help, or hiring someone. Don’t try to do everything.
- Be organised
If possible, plan ahead. You can do this with meals by cooking extra and freezing leftovers, or investing in a slow cooker.
- Join a group
Parenting groups offer great support, ideas and friendship.
- Accept help
If friends and family offer to babysit, cook or help around the house, say YES.
- Don’t compare
Comparing your parenting skills and/or baby to others may not be helpful. Concentrate on what makes your family unique, and forget about everybody else.
- Take care of yourself
For more information on self-care, see Why is self-care important.
Feeling stressed? Refer to our brochure for practical tips on stress management.
Still worried? Download Mind the Bump – a handy app designed to prepare you for parenthood and the first two years of your baby’s life.
Karitane Tip: When you feel upset, frustrated or out of control, the best thing you can do is take a break. If alone, put your baby in a safe place – like a cot with the side up – and leave the room to take some deep breaths. If you’re constantly overwhelmed, remember there’s nothing wrong with asking for help.
Making time to look after yourself helps your adjustment to parenthood.
- Take time out for you
Sit outside in the fresh air with a cup of tea, go for a walk, take a relaxing bath, or do things you enjoy.
- Share your experience
Meeting and chatting with other new parents offers a valuable source of company and support. Look up local parenting and/or online groups.
- Rest when you can
Even reading a magazine for a few minutes can provide the mental break you need.
- Eat healthy
A well balanced diet will give you the right energy to care for your child.
Try to fit in some physical activity each day. This could be a walk with the pram, home yoga, or a gym membership.
- Accept help
If friends and family offer to pitch in, use your free time for self-care.
- Reach out
If you ever feel overwhelmed or that you can’t cope, don’t be afraid to seek the assistance of a healthcare professional.
Karitane Tip: Your overall health and wellbeing are just as important as your baby’s. Don’t forget your needs when looking after your baby’s needs.
If you have serious concerns about your emotions and feelings, and/or experience debilitating distress that impacts your day-to-day life for more than a few weeks, we recommend consultation with a healthcare professional. This could be a counsellor, your doctor, or your child and family health nurse. Each will help you identify the best plan of action for your needs, and get you back on the path to happiness and confidence.
For additional support, contact:
- Karitane Careline
We are with you every step of the way
1300 CARING | 1300 227 464
- Beyond Blue
An organisation promoting good mental health
- Your local community health centre
More information on mental health during early parenthood can be found under Depression and Anxiety.