The Adjustment to Parenthood - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>Mom & Dad

The Adjustment to Parenthood

Becoming a parent, especially for the first time, is a life-changing event. Psychologists who have done research into the levels of stress attributed to various critical situations in our lives, suggest that the adjustment to the birth of a baby is not far removed from the stress attributed to death and divorce! This sounds really negative and incredibly daunting. After all, the latter two events involve traumatic loss, while birth surely involves the opposite? Upon reflection however, it becomes clear that the birth of a baby – especially the first – involves losses and inevitable changes. For most couples the confirmation of that first pregnancy is greeted with joy and celebration. Even in cases where the pregnancy may not have been planned , the news is usually accepted with positivity and acceptance. The focus is placed on the excitement of the new addition to the family and extended family become part of the anticipation and planning. Parenting books are read, ante natal classes attended, baby departments are explored and lists made of the requirements for this new little person. It is generally anticipated with joy – at times tinged with some anxiety regarding the health of the baby and the birth process. When the first scan shows the reality of the miracle which is developing in the mother’s body, the parents begin to actively bond with their baby. The emphasis is largely positive and a great deal of time and energy is put into the planning of the baby’s arrival and the hopes that the parents have for this new addition to their family. As with everything in life, there cannot be all positives. Like laws of science, you cannot have a positive without a negative. The problem for most new parents is that no-one prepares them for the inevitable negatives. When I have asked new parents, in the throes of the chaos of the first few weeks and months of their baby’s arrival, if they would have believed it if someone had mentioned that there would be negatives, they almost always say “no”! The rest of the conversation goes something like this.....” I really did think that, even though many of my friends told me that there would be terrible days, sleepless nights, hours of colic-related distress, total disorganisation etc, I just thought that it would be different for me. Further, because I have always been so organised and am so well prepared, I would sail through it. Sure – there would be challenges – but I would keep on top of it all.” The reality is that becoming a parent involves many losses – and it is o important to recognise this – and to develop realistic expectations of the road ahead. What are these losses? 1) For the mother: The loss of her pre-baby body. For many women, this comes as a shock. Many believe that, once the baby is delivered, her body will return to its pre-baby shape. For some this may be so, but for most, it takes many months to begin to fit into those pre-baby jeans and skirts. This leads to loss of self esteem, as the new mother feels increasingly unattractive and decidedly unromantic. Many new Moms also feel isolated and cut off from previous friends – especially her childless friends. Her world becomes centred around feeding, nappy changing, catching up on sleep and keeping up with chores . She loses her interest in sex- bed becomes a place for sleep only! She is just too exhausted to even think of anything else in bed. 2) For the father: He loses the partner he had pre-baby. This leads to confusion and misunderstandings. Although for many fathers, life continues much as it was – especially if he is at work all day – with adults and the usual routines, he will also be exhausted from the erratic nights and the extra demands placed on him. Often the loss of the other income ( even if only for a while) places stress on him. Many fathers have shared that they become anxious about the reality that the mother and child are so totally dependent on him at this time. Fathers have shared with me that they cannot understand the change in their partners – the transition from “lover” to “mother” seems an enormous one. While they understand the reasons, they feel cut off and confused. They also feel enormous ambivalence regarding how to get the balance between being the “hunters who bring home the bacon” and the nurturing, hands-on Dads that they hope to be. 3) For the couple: The loss of spontaneity. Pre baby it was possible to do things on the spur of the moment. To have leisurely Sunday mornings reading the papers and sipping cappuchinos. they could go out to restaurants on the spur of the moment. They now have to plan things carefully. Pack bags, bottles , prams and other baby essentials. And, even if they do get out for a meal eventually, either the baby becomes restless or they are so exhausted by the time they order the meal, that they would rather have stayed at home and gone to sleep when the baby slept!! Another issue which can cause enormous issues, is that most new parents do not have any prior communication about how they hope to parent their baby. Huge problems can emerge – as suddenly they realise that each is hoping to parent in the way they were parented. Or to parent in different ways, because of negative childhood experiences. But they did not think to address this during the months of planning for the baby’s arrival. The list of possible losses just goes on and on. But – as I said earlier, there are so many positives. And the positives will shine through – if only parents would recognise that any adjustment is challenging – and takes a great deal of effort and mature application of skills and effective strategies. To highlight the most important in my opinion: 1) Try to see the world through each other’s eyes. Try to understand how this new stage in your lives affects each of you. Show empathy towards each other. This is such a crucial factor. Many new fathers fail to show empathy towards their partners. They become judgmental when she is tired and disorganised. Impatient when she seems irrational and self centred. Her hormones have undergone huge changes- and this can lead to emotions that seem uncontrollable. Calm understanding, helping her voice the feelings which she is not expressing in an adult way – will go a long way towards helping the crisis to pass. In the same way, if the new mother tries to understand just how confusing it is for the new father, and places herself more often in his shoes, things will calm down and the relationship will be enriched. Through empathy and effective communication will come a closeness in your relationship – and this will lead to reconnecting on an intimate level. 2) Have realistic expectations – of each other, of the baby – and of this time in the development of your family. Do not try for perfection. This will lead to feelings of frustration and failure. Accept the inevitability of chaos for a while. Set very small goals initially eg to just get dressed by lunchtime! Or to make supper by 8pm! 3) Realise that, for the first few months, the baby will dictate the pace. Meeting his needs at this stage, will actually lead to the routine becoming predictable sooner. You will get your life back sooner if you accept that it will have to come second for a while. 4) Do not stop communicating with each other. As tired as you may be, try to share feelings and opinions. Listen to each other. Express negative feelings as maturely as possible. Make time to talk – even if you are exhausted and it is over a cup of hot chocolate or rooibos tea ( or a glass of wine) while the baby is sleeping – eventually. Set this as a priority. The dishes can wait and the dust on the furniture will not be held as a measure of your success in life. But your communication with the other parent will be of immense importance. I have dealt with far too many sad divorces / separations – where the source of the disconnection began with the birth of the first baby. Becoming a parent is momentous. It is life changing. But it is also the best opportunity for personal growth that I can think of. Enjoy the many, many marvellous “highs” – and balance these with the inevitable “lows”. Communicate, share, ask for help, learn and stay positive. Remember that a sense of humour is essential. Being a parent if for life – so relax and enjoy it. By Anne Cawood Anne Cawood is the author of Children need Boundaries, Toddlers need Boundaries, Children need Grandparents and Adjusting the Boundaries. For more information from Anne Cawood go to or email her at
What it means to be a dad - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>Mom & Dad

What it means to be a dad

Christmas Day and birthdays used to be the ones I longed for and loved during the past 30 years. Not any more, I assure you. While they are special, the one day I cannot wait to arrive in 2010 is Father’s Day. My first as a dad. The reason? I love every second of being a parent. When my wife was pregnant, I went through every emotion there is, from excitement to fear, as I awaited the arrived of our first born. I was so excited I wrote a book about it! I was relishing fatherhood but you always hear those scare stories of when your baby arrives, things can start to crumble, get the better of you. Not a chance. Yes, there are fewer hours to lie in bed and your responsibilities change, life is different. However, it has been enhanced. At the moment, my daughter Gracie is just four months old but so much has happened, she has changed and grown so much. For me, I never wanted to miss a second. Knowing the smile you will receive when you walk into her nursery in a morning is enough to make anybody get up, no matter what the hour. Children are so innocent, so full of life and to see Gracie smiling all day every day makes me feel I must be doing something right. Knowing she is mine and seeing her develop her own personality is fantastic. Trust me, she will let us know if it has gone past 7pm. She wants to be in bed. Gracie is yet to walk or talk, crawl even. But to help a little person develop 24/7 – and see the effort pay off – is amazing. You can put a price on most things, especially material items. You can’t put a price on unconditional love. In the future, she will have dreams and goals in life that I will help her try and achieve. For now, her simply being on this planet is seeing me realise my dreams. I am sure there are downs, if you want to be picky. I suppose ‘me’ time goes out of the window as you have a responsibility on your shoulders that far outweighs your own needs. But that is what being a dad is about. Being a father is everything I hoped for – and more. I am sure there will be plenty of times I am made to think otherwise. However, that little, loving smile will soon eradicate any negative vibes. That is why I am looking forward to Father’s Day so much. Not to be pampered or receive presents. Just to be able to celebrate finally becoming a dad. There is no other feeling like it. Stevie Roden - Author of Dad’ll Do Nicely: A Father’s Pregnancy
The tough part of being a mom - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>Mom & Dad

The tough part of being a mom

No one tells you even half the story when you are pregnant! No one mentions what it’s like to hold an inconsolable baby - not knowing why she is crying. No one mentions or if they do you have no idea how tearful it can make you. And no one mentions maternal guilt – the overwhelming feeling that you are failing your baby and the turmoil you go through to make the ‘right decision’ all the time. The old adage - “Maternal guilt, it comes with the placenta” is completely true. Being an expectant mom is an overwhelming experience and it never really changes. We are overwhelmed by the guilt – guilt over what I ate in pregnancy, when I stopped breastfeeding each time, leaving my baby with the nanny for the first time, going to work every morning when baby was little, loosing my cool and shouting at them all over a little mess…. the list goes on and on. Where does this crazy overwhelming guilt come from? As parents we feel an enormous weight of responsibility for a life. We take every decision very much to heart because we have a real sense that we are impacting a human life forever. And that is a huge responsibility, a colossal task. This is the reason we analyze every decision we make and strive to do the best for our baby all the time. But a lot of the time the decisions we make, have to consider other variables - our own needs, another child's needs, our husband or our work. So when we are balancing all these needs and responsibilities, it is a given there will be some compromise. It is in the moments of compromise and in the small errors we make as human beings that the guile of guilt manifests. Another major factor in the guilt we feel is the pressure and expectation to be the perfect mom. We live in a society that expects excellence and sets the bar very high. Many moms come from a background of academic success or career achievements and they have very high expectations of themselves. High expectations are both external (society, husbands and family) as well as self-imposed. Sadly we seem unable to cut our selves any slack and just as bad, we judge other women on unachievable standards too. The mommy wars are a very sad manifestation of the expectations we have of each other to be the perfect mom all the time. So take it that maternal guilt is absolutely part of parenting and it starts from the moment of conception and continues through life. What can we do? The important thing is to keep perspective. 99% of the things we sweat and the guilt trips are really irrelevant in the big picture. Will your baby be scarred forever because he got a nappy rash when you left a dirty nappy on for too long? The answer is no. Will your little one be an emotional wreck because you had to leave him to cry for a few minutes while you wiped your toddler's bum? No, he won’t. So a message would be: Keep perspective Don't sweat the small stuff Tell your self daily you are a good mom Encourage your partner and your friends on their journey And just be good enough - NOT perfect. By Meg Faure
The best kept secret of parenthood – it is hard work! - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>Mom & Dad

The best kept secret of parenthood – it is hard work!

Having a baby is a beautiful and wonderful thing, but it can sometimes feel traumatic, depressing and frightening. A woman I know, who has 3 grown up children and a grandchild on the way, said to me, “everyone is so excited and happy when a 1st pregnancy is announced, but I just want to say, ‘oh shame, you poor thing…you have no idea what you’re in for…but of course I don’t say that…I just say, ‘congratulations’ and pretend to be delighted as well. Lots of people will own up to the ‘best kept secret’ that babies are sometimes hard and parenthood - particularly motherhood - can be grueling but at the same time, of course, be the best thing in the world. Some facts Women are more likely to become depressed in the first year after having a baby (and the last trimester in pregnancy) than any other time in their lives 10-15% of mothers develop postnatal depression (PND), and in developing countries and poverty stricken areas, the figures are much higher Research has shown that 1/3 of Khayelitsha moms suffer from PND Suicide is the leading cause of maternal death in developed countries The new father can also get depressed. Dads often feel left out and unwanted when babies come along. As a new mom, it’s so easy to feel frustrated, disappointed, confused, depressed and anxious when you’re expected to be blissfully happy. The media contributes to this problem by perpetuating a lie about motherhood and babies by publishing only pictures of young, beautiful, skinny, model mothers, and bouncy, smiley, contented babies. There are relatively few pictures in baby and parenting magazines of the graveyard shift, mothers looking and feeling like hell, trying to soothe an unhappy baby, trying to breastfeed a screaming baby who can’t seem to latch, etc. In the context of this fairy tale, idealized image of how motherhood and babies are supposed to be, the reality can feel like a huge let down. It can even feel like a betrayal. A Cape Town couple, Lisa Lazarus and Greg Fried, co-wrote The book of Jacob which, unlike most other books about babies, is an honest, frank description of the hell they experienced during the first year of their son’s life. Although loads of people have loved this book and find it a huge relief that others too struggle with parenthood, Lisa and Greg have received hate mail from outraged readers who couldn’t bear the fact that these brave parents owned up to how hard it can be having a baby. In writing this book, they shattered the image of perfect, idealized babies and parents. The truth is that real babies can disappoint their parents sometimes …especially sick babies, colicky or refluxy babies, unplanned babies, high need babies who cry a lot and are irritable and difficult to soothe, babies who don’t feed well, and babies who are abnormal or handicapped in some way. It’s very disappointing when you realize that your baby can’t meet your own unmet needs and he won’t be everything you want him to be. In addition to this, motherhood goes hand in hand with a substantial number of significant losses, such as: your sense of self and aspects of your identity your own life takes a back seat and the level of self-sacrifice is very high your freedom and personal space and time your status and credibility (motherhood is undervalued) your relationship with your spouse becomes altered your sexuality and physical appearance…there’s no time or energy to make yourself look beautiful and most moms would rather sleep than have sex your career and financial freedom independence and marital equality energy levels are compromised sleep deprivation takes a terrible toll on your mental state your mental health can become compromised What can help? The loving support of a spouse is really important! Part of the dad’s role in the beginning is to look after the new mother. Support from friends and family is also protective, as long as it is the kind of support that empowers rather than controls. Often your own mother can be the most powerful factor that either strengthens or undermines your ability to cope as a new mom. Connecting with other people, especially other new moms, is extremely important. New mothers are often socially isolated, and being alone with an unhappy baby is not easy. If you find yourself struggling as a new parent or if you need emotional support or guidance with your baby, contact one of our Babies in Mind practitioners in your area, either to join one of our workshops, attend one of our talks, or for individual consultations. All our practitioners are mental health professionals with specialized training and expertise. By Clinical Psychologist Jenny Perkel
Solving sleep problems starts with acceptance - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>1-3 Months

Solving sleep problems starts with acceptance

“People who say they sleep like a baby usually don’t have one” Leo J Burke Ask any sleep deprived mother and she will attest to the fact that her ability to function and parent well is hindered by lack of sleep. We crave the energising and renewing feeling sleep gives us and yet for many, sleep becomes an enigma or fond distant memory during our baby’s first year. The first step to dealing with sleep deprivation is in fact not getting more sleep, but being realistic about what we should expect from our babies. As soon as we know what to expect from our babies in terms of sleep we have made the first step towards acceptance. By knowing what to expect, we stop unrealistic cravings for sleep and start to deal with sleep deprivation constructively. Many common misconceptions abound about baby’s sleep: If you sleep well, you sleep like a baby! You should aim for your baby to sleep through the night at 6 weeks Once your baby has slept through a feed for three nights in a row it will not require that feed again and should be ‘dummied’ to prevent feeding at that time. All babies sleep through the night at 3 months By waking your baby at 10pm for a feed you will encourage them to drop the early morning feed A full nights sleep is 7pm to 7am These misconceptions are not true and by expecting your baby to do them you set your self up for disappointment and frustrations on the path to developing good sleep habits. So the question is what can you reasonably expect from your baby? All babies wake or at least stir at night The young baby has a sleep cycle of 45 minutes. A sleep cycle stretches from one light sleep state through a deep sleep state to the next light sleep state. All babies stir every 45 minutes as they come into the light sleep state. Good sleepers can resettle themselves without needing intervention, whereas poor sleepers signal to their mothers, needing help to fall back asleep. So the notion that if you sleep well, you sleep like a baby is incorrect as all babies are in fact stirring every 45 minutes. Her baby slept through the night from 6 weeks when will mine? The idea that some babies ‘sleep through’ at six weeks or all babies should sleep through by 3 months is not correct. Some babies will sleep through the night earlier than others, if your baby does this enjoy it but know it may be short lived as many babies start to wake again after six months. Babies should be allowed to expect a night feed until they are on full solids (6 months), if they need it. As a rule of thumb, babies under 6 weeks are feeding almost as frequently at night as they do during the day, possibly stretching to four or five hours once at night. Between 6 to 12 weeks your baby will probably drop a night feed, usually the 10pm to 11:30pm feed and therefore only require one feed in the early morning and then another at dawn. Do not wake your baby for the evening feed to prevent the morning one as this frequently leads to problems as you are not allowing your baby’s natural sleep rhythms to develop. At three to six months your baby can be expected to sleep from the early evening to a very early morning feed – after 3am. During this period, your baby will probably need to start eating solids but not proteins until after 6 months. So what is ‘sleeping through’ and when should my baby sleep through? Sleeping through entails sleeping from early evening (approximately 7pm) for a stretch of 10 to 12 hours, which means waking between 5am and 7am. During this time, your baby may stir but a ‘good sleeper’ resettles himself. By understanding your baby’s sleep and having reasonable expectations, night feeds and night wakings become more bearable. As exhausting as this early mothering period is, it is precious and short lived. By instilling good sleep habits from early on you will soon enjoy a longer night’s sleep, but not for many years will your sleep habits resemble those blissful pre-pregnancy sleep-ins or a solids night’s sleep. By Meg Faure
Post Natal Depression - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>Mom & Dad

Post Natal Depression

The arrival of a ‘bundle of joy’ challenges most new mothers’ whole way of life. People generally expect to feel overjoyed at the wonder of having a baby and watching it grow and develop. Sometimes, however, during those first few weeks or months at home, a mother may become aware of confusing thoughts or feelings such as sadness, anger, guilt or fears of harming her baby...a silent torment because she does not feel the happiness that she expected to feel. Postnatal distress or depression is believed to be caused by a combination of biological, emotional and social factors which are beyond the control of the new mother. It is best understood to be a state of imbalance experienced by a mother when the relentless demands of caring for her baby exceed the resources, both internal and external, that are available to her. She has no reserves left to cope with a fussy, irritable baby who may be difficult to soothe or adjust to a schedule. The way in which she sees herself, her baby, and motherhood becomes distorted. Postnatal distress can take many forms, but the most common feelings and symptoms are: chronic exhaustion, low energy, the inability to think clearly, low concentration, forgetfulness, tearful, sad, feeling numb, disconnected, ‘just going through the motions’ irritable, angry, frustrated, ‘too much to do, too little time’ resentful, oversensitive, feeling out of control, unable to cope, scared and panicky afraid to be alone, worried all the time, inadequate, helpless, insecure struggling with sleep, to eat normally, to be motivated, to be sexually intimate don’t feel you love your baby, or feel that you baby does not love you feelings of shame or guilt, ‘my baby will be better off without me’, ‘I am not a good mother’ anxiety and fearfulness, that either harm will come to your baby or you will harm you baby or yourself. If you have experienced such distressing thoughts or feelings for more than 10 days, or you feel things are getting worse, not better, seek help immediately, from your doctor, midwife or clinic sister. Postnatal distress or depression robs you of the ability to feel connected, confident and secure. It can be a lonely and isolating experience. The first thing to remember is that it is not your fault. You are not to blame. It is crucial that you tell someone you trust about these disturbing thoughts and feelings, and get the support and understanding you need and deserve. Your inability to cope with daily life is not the problem but may be a symptom of a real, treatable, medical condition. You may be trying to do a very hard job while struggling with extreme exhaustion or a serious illness. Don’t struggle on alone and exacerbate the symptoms. You and your family deserve that you take care of yourself. Take one day at a time. You will get better. The following websites may be helpful and offer useful strategies to help you adjust and cope:
Make your New Year’s resolutions happen - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>Mom & Dad

Make your New Year’s resolutions happen

At the start of each new year, many of us make resolutions; promises or intentions to do something better or to stop something that we feel holds us back. Being a parent adds a new slant to our annual resolutions and for many of us our resolutions are intentions for the year ahead to be a better parent. 1. Establish a routine for my baby.Routines are something many of us long for, to create a little order and predictability in our days. You can start a sleep routine based on Awake Times that are age appropriate for your baby from the first week of life. Don’t be rigid but follow the guidelines in Baby Sense for when to settle your little one to sleep each day. 2. Listen to my intuition.In an age of too much information, it becomes hard to listen to your intuition. The best way to do so is to choose only two voices and one book or website to consider. Make sure your source of advice has similar values and ideals as you do so that when you hear advice it makes sense to you. 3. To have more patience and stay calm. Every parent has those days when they just loose their cool and shout or yell. While there is nothing wrong with feeling stressed, if you don’t stay calm things usually get worse - when you are stressed, your baby will become more winey or clingy or demanding which does no one any good at all. If you are feeling at the end of your tether: put your little one in a safe space with a safe toy, go outside and take a deep breath or three. If you don’t feel better, call a neighbor or someone who can support you and go for a jog or at least have some time alone. And whatever you do don’t feel guilty. We’ve all been there. 4. Spend more time outdoors.As soon as you see you have a sunny day coming up, plan an outdoor activity. A great idea is to get a large plastic sandpit and fill it will different things every few weeks – in summer, water play is great and in cooler weather, a sandpit or ball pond makes great outdoor activity. Just be sure to put up an umbrella over the play area to prevent sunburn. 5. To create firmer boundaries, especially around bedtime. There is a simple three step approach to creating boundaries: A – Acknowledge what your little one wants “I know you want to …” B – Boundaries need to be firm and consistent “…but we can’t….” C – Choices are presented that are on your terms: “…. instead you can have X or we can rather do Y.” Once this is laid out, be consistent and always follow through. 6. To remember I am a woman and have some ‘me time’ and get my body into shape. Almost every mum forgets herself in the process of becoming a mother. If you have a nanny or some help, go to gym or for a run twice a week. If like most mums you have to do this with your baby, schedule a walking group (or partner) three times a week. Pop your baby in a pram (stroller) or sling and go for a power walk. Not only will you feel better with a little ‘me time’ but you will get fit too! 7. To read to my baby every night and only allow 30 minutes of TV a day. Use TV as an emergency baby-sitter – for instance if you have a toddler and a new baby and need to feed and settle the new baby, there is nothing wrong with putting your toddler in front of the TV for a short time. Try not to sit your toddler in front of TV for hours on end. Rather create a sensory basket – a container with household objects each with a different sensory texture that your baby can explore. This will keep him occupied and grow his brain! 8. Not to stress about things that are out of my control.If you find yourself stressing about small things, ask these three questions: a. Will my baby be injured by this decision or this action? b. Can I change this situation? c. Can I just accept this situation for the next 15 minutes These questions will give you time to measure the situation and will diffuse the feelings of stress. 9. To forgive myself for my shortcomings.Every day, forgive your self for the things your did or didn’t you. You are not perfect and being an imperfect but ‘good-enough’ mum is way better for your baby than a perfect parent (which really doesn’t exist). Research has shown that small failings help babies to adjust well to life and to become more secure in their interactions and relationships. 10. To tell my baby I love her everyday. Simply say the words – its really not that hard: I love you! By Meg Faure
Being a great dad - an amazing partner - Babysense
Category_Advice & Tips>Baby>Ages & Stages>Mom & Dad

Being a great dad - an amazing partner

When a new baby arrives it is not just the baby that is born. A new mother and a new father are “born” too. Dads – your role as a father begins not just at the birth but during the pregnancy too. Here are a few tips of things you should do – and shouldn’t do – to support your partner during her pregnancy. Do listen to friends and relatives who have been there before. Other dads will tell it like it is and won’t sugar coat things for you. Do understand hormones – your partner is going through major hormonal changes. If she asks you to bring a roast beef sandwich home and then refuses to eat it, just smile and be patient. By no means does this mean you can eat the sandwich though! Be patient and tolerant of mood swings and your partners’ unusual needs. Do be at the birth. It is an unforgettable day and most dads rise to the occasion. Do remember the little things. Little treats go a long way. Do get involved with the buying, but don’t be tempted to “pick stuff up” on a whim. Your partner probably has a set idea of what she wants the nursery to look like and the type of pushchair/stroller she will need. Do do your research. Do go to all scans, appointments and classes where possible. Do understand your role at the birth. Do touch the bump but don’t encourage others to, unless your wife is comfortable with all and sundry touching it. Don’t focus only on the practical things. While planning the route to the hospital and completing any DIY tasks are important, make sure you are emotionally available to your partner too. Remember you are in this together so keep talking to each other about how you are feeling. Don’t forget to look after yourself. Keep fit, happy, well prepared and healthy. That is the best way to be able to support your partner. Being a brilliant dad and supportive partner means you may need to make some small changes. Once your baby is born: Do put mum and baby’s interests first. Your partner is bound to be emotional and exhausted. Do do the chores. Help out where you can. The early days can be a blur of feeding, crying and nappy changes. Household chores can be difficult to get to. Do make time to play. Do spend your spare time with your baby. The thing your child wants most from you, from birth right up to adulthood, is your time. Do read to your baby. Do demonstrate and instil good self-esteem. Do protect your family. Most importantly, enjoy fatherhood and be there as part of the parenting team! By Meg Faure
Feeling overwhelmed as a new mom - Babysense
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Feeling overwhelmed as a new mom

If you have been feeling low or know of someone who is finding her new role as parent more of a challenge than a joy, you need to know more about PND – postnatal depression or distress. Linda Lewis, research psychologist and author of “When Blessings don’t count”, looks at this issue with great empathy. I think, or should I say, I hope, that when you embarked on the journey of motherhood, at some stage during your pregnancy or after childbirth, you heard about a condition called Postnatal Distress. For many women it may seem like a foreign concept – “How could I feel anything but joy and gratitude for my beautiful baby”. Yet for others, and I’m talking about up to 3 out of 10 moms, it can feel very different from this and more like – “I know I should be feeling joy and gratitude for my baby, and I wish I was, but being a mom is so different to what I expected.” For mothers who feel the latter, I want to reassure you that I know that YOU know that you ARE blessed to have your baby and I know that you feel terribly guilty for how you are feeling but when it comes to postnatal distress, your blessings don’t count. What I mean is that you may have all the blessings in the world: a healthy baby, a supportive partner, a lovely family, great support, food on the table and so on but that does not change how you are feeling. And what you may be feeling is: Anxious or panicky for no good reason Tearful, weepy Unable to sleep even when your baby is sleeping Like your emotions are on a roller coaster Overwhelmed with the “foreverness” of this responsibility Scared of being alone with your baby Disappointed that you are not the mother you’d always thought you’d be Will I ever be ME again? If you identify with some of those statements then you need to know that you are not alone. What you are feeling is familiar to so many moms and yet so few speak about it. This leaves you feeling alone and so bad about yourself. There’s a few things you need to know: You are not alone When you get the right support this is going to pass You are not to blame – there is a biochemical component in your body which may be causing this Other moms may feel the same as you and yet look at YOU and think you look so happy and content – women are masters of faking it Moms feel ashamed of their difficult feelings and tend to keep them to themselves for fear of being seen as incompetent or ungrateful Why is it so vital to recognise and acknowledge that you are feeling distressed? You have a baby to take care of PND affects the whole family A well mother makes for a well family We cannot deny that PND affects our children on an emotional and developmental level and so we are obligated to do something about it even if it’s just for your child’s sake. The longer you leave it The more chance of your feelings and symptoms exacerbating The more your relationship with your partner will be compromised The more removed you will become from the life you used to enjoy Now, the important question is: What can I do about it? The 7 most important ones here: The most important thing is to DO something about what you are feeling. Don’t normalise it and minimise it and think that it’s just going to go away if you try harder .You need to take action NOW Talk to a professional who understands PND (look at contacts below) Join a support group (not a mom’s coffee morning) Consult a doctor (preferably a Psychiatrist) about medication (most of which are safe while breastfeeding) Have your thyroid checked Rally in as much support as you can both emotionally and practically Take care of yourself – you are the most important person right now and your wellness takes priority over everything else Contacts The National helpline number for the Postnatal Depression Support Association (PNDSA) is 082 882 0072. By Linda Lewis

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