As new parents embark on the adventure of parenthood, the challenges of adjusting to this new phase of life can be overwhelming. The baby has full-time needs as he or she transitions from a life of safety and security into a brand new world outside of the womb. Parents are there to try and accommodate the baby, at considerable personal sacrifice to their time, energy, and freedom. Here are some common issues faced by new parents and how to address them:
Newborns aren’t familiar enough with daylight yet to be synced up to it and don’t know how to communicate other than to cry. This leads to many sleepless nights for all parties. Lack of sleep, or constant sleep disruption, can make parents feel on edge, tired, and depressed.
Parents who give birth and breastfeed have to recover from the physical impact of delivering the baby. C-sections are major surgeries and natural births have significant recuperation time. Breastfeeding drains nutrients and energy from the host’s body and can result in sore arms, cracked nipples, and tender breasts from latching-on and mastitis.
Parents who give birth are advised not to engage in sexual intercourse for at least four to six weeks after the baby is born in order to give the body a chance to heal. During this period, both of the baby’s parents will be attending to the baby’s needs instead of their partner’s or their own. This can make the parents feel disconnected from each other and obliterate one or both partner’s sex drives, which can lead to feelings of abandonment, resentment, and frustration.
Some parents fear that they are inadequate at meeting their baby’s needs. Since the baby can’t talk, parents panic that the baby’s cries are an indication of disapproval instead of a mere expression of discomfort. Some parents internalize this as being a bad parent, which makes them feel shameful and unworthy.
Reach out to your support system to give you a break from the baby’s needs. Take yourself out to dinner or a movie to reconnect with yourself and your partner.
Your baby relies on you. If you feel sick, incapable, or burned out, your baby will experience those consequences too. Be sure to keep yourself healthy physically, emotionally, and mentally.
A therapist can help you reassess your priorities, unload some of your stressors, and process any fears that come up for you during this transitional period.
If you’re struggling to adjust to parenthood, we can help. At Valued Living Therapy, we offer in-person therapy sessions in the Twin Cities area and via telehealth throughout Minnesota. We are inclusive of all relationships, sexual orientations, and identities, and passionate about helping you make lasting change to live your best life.