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Becoming a parent for the first time is the most exciting, wonderful, and terrifying experience. Once your partner or donor becomes pregnant, the existential dread of what it means to raise a human can hit us like a bus. The mother begins to feel a life growing inside her and the realisation is both beautiful and overwhelming. This article will discuss some advice for new parents and how to ace parenting first time.
Nerves are completely normal at this stage, especially when there’s so much information out there on how to be a great parent. A lot of that information is quite conflicting too, no two parenting books are the same, adding to the confusion. But this article will take you through our advice, and how to become the best parent you can be.
Advice for New Parents: Pregnancy & How to Cope
If you’re a single parent, don’t fear either, you can ask family members or friends to live with you when parenting first time. Pregnancy is incredibly emotional, whether planned or not, you are growing a child. Whether single or a duo, becoming a parent is the biggest emotional transition from thinking only of ourselves to then focusing completely on this new little life.
On a practical level, it can become stressful trying to get the home in order for a baby. If you can afford it, or get gifts from loved ones, advice for new parents is to get the essentials. For example a cot, nappies, a walker, bibs, breast pumps, nursing bras, nipple lotion, diaper changing pad, baby tubs, and baby clothes. Not to mention babyproofing the house, especially if you have stairs getting a gate is a good idea.
Otherwise, the emotional aspects of pregnancy are to do with the anxiety of the unknown. Because we’ve heard about how to be a parent, doesn’t mean that we fully understand yet what it truly is like to have a child. Try to stay active at this time and read up on what you need with a pinch of salt. As every child is different and so is every parent.
But, remember to take time to rest during this time too. You will have family calling or dropping round, friends, and be relatively busy doing baby showers, and preparing yourselves. Remember to spend time unwinding, doing gentle exercises like yoga, and putting your wellness first.
Parenting for the First Time
- Stress & Anxiety: Am I holding it right? Is the baby breathing? Should I nap when they nap? Parenting is like tackling a whole host of questions and battling the fear of making mistakes. Remember to breathe and calm your nervous system, as the baby can sense stress.
- Sleep: Whenever your newborn sleeps you should too, you’ll need the energy throughout your days, and throughout the night.
- Trust Yourselves: Although it feels sometimes like you have no idea what you’re doing, trust that your instincts are right. As parents, we might doubt ourselves at the beginning, but keep learning and trust yourselves more.
- Take The Help That’s Offered: Yes you could do it all by yourselves, but you’ll become more and more exhausted. If anyone offers to look after the little one to give you break. Try to accept the offer and take the time to rest or go on a date with your partner!
- Perfect Doesn’t Exist: Yes you can want to be the best for your baby, but don’t strive for perfection as it doesn’t exist. As long as you love your baby, that’s all that matters.
- Allow Yourself To Be: Don’t hold expectations of how you should feel or be as a parent, because it’s better to go with the flow. Once the baby arrives your expectations will fly out that window, so instead allow yourself to feel however you feel in the moment.
What Is Post-natal Depression?
Parents can sometimes come down hard on themselves for the baby blues. This is because it can stir up emotions like feeling like you’re failing at parenting first time. The fatigue, mixed with the lack of bonding. Plus sometimes resentment towards the child happens for crying or other things. This makes parents psychologically torment themselves for being bad parents.
Some advice for new parents is to remind yourself that you are not a bad parent for going through postnatal depression.
For the mother, you’re going through a huge hormonal transition, bodily change, and having to learn to be a parent for the first time on top of that. For fathers, you were at the beck and call of the mother-to-be, now you’re no longer needed as you don’t have the milk.
The best thing to do is to discuss these feelings with each other openly, and seek mental health help if it lasts longer than two to three weeks. But for those two to three weeks, talk to one another about your feelings, and take it easy on yourselves.
Also, try to plan out how each of you can take turns in duties.
Best Parenting Advice for New Parents
Plan, then be Ready for the plan to fly awayYou can plan everything for a baby until you’re blue in the face, but nothing can prepare you for the wonder and challenge of having one. Once that child comes you’ll likely find that the plans you had in place might not work, as it’s normal to have no idea what parenting is like.
“There really are places in the heart you don’t even know exist until you love a child.” – Anne Lamott
The first few months are said to be the toughest, but once you get into the swing of your new life, that’s when the joyous moments and the fun can begin. Not to mention, the love that grows between you and your little munchkin.
Routine is keyAdvice for new parents is having a routine in place doesn’t just help the baby but it helps mum and dad. Make sure there’s adequate time for you both to rest, and maybe a day in the week where grandma and grandpa take the baby for you.
Parents need to divide the workload throughout the week as best they can. So that throughout the week both of you has a few moments to recuperate. Even finding time to do simple things like shower and shave. Finding the perfect schedule is up to you. We can’t tell you what’s best for your family, that takes some time to figure out too, so don’t be too hard on yourself if you haven’t figured it out yet.
Everyone & Their Neighbor Will Tell You How To ParentMore advice for new parents is to be prepared for lectures on how to be a great parent. For example, people will tell you to let your baby cry, or how to hold them, or just about anything when it comes to parenting. Your parents, friends, cousins twice-removed, everyone will have their opinion on what makes a good parent, or a great parenting technique.
People can pass their wisdom but it’s really up to you to take it or leave it. At the end of the day you are the one parenting, and make sure to communicate to those who give advice that you’re grateful but that you’ve got this.
“When can I see the baby?”Be prepared for all your friends and relatives to ask to see your newborn right away. This can sometimes be a little overwhelming just after giving birth. It’s alright to say no, especially if you’re tired or unable due to the responsibilities of parenting first time.
It’s important to get the rest you need after such a huge event, your mind and body will need time to recover, and so will the baby. Only accept when you feel ready to, usually, after a few weeks, you’ll start to regain some energy.
Advice for new parents: Start building memoriesIt’s never too early to start creating family memories, even if the babies don’t remember you’ll be able to share them with them later on. There’s nothing more bonding than trips, special days, or even just playing with your little one when parenting first time.
Try to write down the special moments, as later down the line they can fade sometimes. Try to remember their first words, the first time they walked, hold onto the cute school drawings. It’s the little things that usually mean the world.
Can’t breastfeed? It’s Okay!The phrase “breast milk is best” is one that can do more harm than good. Many mothers want to breastfeed when parenting first time, as it’s a natural process. Breastfeeding also strengthens a baby’s immune system, but not all mothers can. Some mothers aren’t able to produce enough milk, have health complications, or find the experience far too painful and frustrating.
The problem is that these women can sometimes become upset with themselves, feel as though once again, they’re failing at parenting. But, in reality, parenting is about more than just breast milk. Not to mention, the formula’s they have for babies now are packed with many of the same nutrients.
Rather than forcing yourself to breastfeed, it’s better to simply feed the baby. There’s also a silver lining if you can’t breastfeed, and that is that both you and the father can bond during feeding time. While it’s awesome if you can give your child breast milk, try not to beat yourself up if you can’t.
Instead, some advice for new parents is to hold your baby close as you bottle feed, look into their eye’s and strengthen your connection that way.
Discovering Your Baby
After a time you will learn when they want to feed or need changing, you will learn how to do baby-led feeding, and that they sleep irregularly at first because they don’t know about night and daytimes. You’ll also learn that a swaddle or baby burp cloth is a highly valuable tool!
But most importantly, you’ll learn what makes your baby laugh. What makes their eyes widen as they begin to see. You’ll learn that holding them and walking around helps to calm them.
Advice for New Parents: It Does Get Easier
The only real advice for new parents we can give is to enjoy the baby moments more and try to release some of the anxiety, let go of guilt, and say goodbye to embarrassment. Remember that they grow up faster than we realise and that every second with them is precious.
Lastly, to repeat ourselves, don’t be too hard on yourself! It’s the most difficult, and most rewarding job on the planet. Try to cut yourself some slack, you will be an amazing parent if you follow your instincts, do your best, and love them as much as you can.