Adjusting To Parenthood: What To Expect In The First Year
Parenthood is exhausting. And it’s never exactly what we expect it to be
The 1st year of parenthood is a rollercoaster, a tornado of sleepless nights and stressful situations.
It can be slow, boring, scary, and exciting.
But it’s also the time of the most profound moments of joy.
Luckily, these days there is SO much information online to help you every step of the way. Read this ultimate guide to motherhood– the resource that has information about everything from baby foods and formulas to travelling gear.
The biggest challenges that parents commonly experience in their first year of parenthood include:
Breastfeeding and/or bottle feeding
Newborns typically sleep for periods of 2–4 hours. Don’t expect yours to sleep through the night — the digestive system of babies is so small that they need nourishment every few hours and should be awakened if they haven’t been fed for 4 hours.
Feeding your baby may come easily to you or it may be yet another challenge, and different from what you expected or hoped for.
Bonding with the baby
There are many reasons it may take longer than you expected to develop a connection with your baby.
Your baby may or may not be the baby that you expected to have.
Some babies will be very settled, while others will take time to settle and may cry a lot – demanding from you both great patience and commitment.
This can be especially the case if your baby has health problems like gas that can cause them to be particularly unsettled.
So be prepared for coping with an unsettled baby.
Lack of sleep can greatly affect your mood, energy, patience, and ability to think clearly. Being overly emotional can be compounded by lack of sleep and the feeling that things are out of control.
Constant 24/7 care is exhausting
Taking care of a baby is physically exhausting. Babies need around-the-clock care.
They need to be fed every couple of hours; they wake up multiple times per night. And they may require specific rituals and routines to get them to eat, stop crying, or fall asleep.
The constant attendance to another human being and lack of sleep can leave parents feeling physically and mentally run down and haggard.
Fatigued parents also show more frustration and irritability toward their kids.
Playing with a baby can get boring
Let’s be honest, playing with teddy bears for hours is not the most stimulating activity for an adult. Focusing one’s attention on child games and kid-oriented activities can be wearying, so often parents just zone out.
It’s easy to beat oneself up for not feeling mentally present 100 percent of the time, but these are feelings that most parents experience.
People will try to give you all sorts of advice
Endless advice can leave you questioning yourself and your capabilities so trust yourself as the expert on your baby. You needn’t compare yourself to others. All parents and babies are different!
Remember everyone does things differently, it’s not a reflection on if you’re right or wrong.
No matter what anyone tells you, do whatever works for you.
Postnatal depression is real
More and more mothers have been speaking up about postnatal depression, and today most people see it as a normal physiological response experienced by some new parents.
It’s a common problem, affecting more than 1 in every 10 women within a year of giving birth. It can also affect fathers and partners.
It’s important to get help as soon as possible if you think you might be depressed, as your symptoms could last for months or get worse and have a significant impact on you, your baby, and your family.
Strategies to cope with 1st-year parenthood:
〰️ Sleep when the baby sleeps – even 10-20 minute naps great for a quick refresh.
〰️ Set up a good routine for your baby when they are 3 months old – to get your baby used to a bedtime routine early on
〰️ Don’t worry about the mess in the house! – better take that time to sleep, or hire a cleaner, or ask friends to put money together for a cleaner
〰️ Ask for any help you can get – nurses, councellers, friends, family – all can contribute and help with something. Many hospitals have feeding specialists or lactation consultants who can help you get started nursing or bottle-feeding. Nurses also are a great resource to show you how to hold, burp, change, and care for your baby.
〰️ Be kind to yourself – be it a 20min in the bath, time to yourself reading, or a massage, take care of yourself.
〰️ Swaddling is life-changing for comforting babies – this is the perfect soothing technique for some babies during their first few weeks. Proper swaddling keeps a baby’s arms close to the body while allowing for some movement of the legs. Not only does swaddling keep a baby warm, but it seems to give most newborns a sense of security and comfort. Swaddling also may help limit the startle reflex, which can wake a baby.
〰️ Burp your baby after meal times – babies often swallow air during feedings, which can make them gassy. To help prevent this, burp your baby often. Try burping your baby every 2–3 ounces (60–90 milliliters) if you bottle-feed, and each time you switch breasts if you breastfeed.
If your baby tends to be gassy, has gastroesophageal reflux, or seems fussy during feeding, try burping your little one after every ounce during bottle-feeding or every 5 minutes during breastfeeding.
Always burp your baby when feeding time is over, then keep him or her in an upright position for at least 10–15 minutes to avoid spitting up.