It’s no secret that a new baby is an interesting time for the family. This applies not only to the birth parent but the non-birth parent as well as any primary caregiver and adoptive parents. Here are some ways that primary caregivers can handle the mental health challenges that come with a new baby.
Seek Out Social Connections
It takes a village, but not everyone has a village to rely on. Sometimes you have to build your own. This can come from an online support forum, a local parent playgroup, or friends and coworkers who have kids.
It’s ideal to establish a connection before things get too stressful. A good therapist can help you navigate the changes and stresses of parenthood, especially if you find yourself struggling with postpartum anxiety or postpartum depression.
It’s Not Just Moms Who Struggle
Sometimes the other parent is left out of the conversation on postpartum mental health. As the non-birth parent, you still are experiencing a lot of stress and changes. Make sure you still form social connections and have a trusted therapist ready to help you.
Give Yourself Grace
You learn together. Each parent and the baby are all learning. If something is difficult, like feeding, give yourself the grace of understanding that you are all learning together. Even if you have had children before, every new baby will come with its unique changes.
Stay On Top of Your Bills
Sleep deprivation can have a real impact on working memory. If possible, set your bills on autopay to avoid the stress of late fees or shut off utilities.
If it is available to you, consider indulging in grocery delivery. Having your essentials delivered means that you don’t have to leave the house before you’re physically ready, and the parents can avoid the stress of strapping an infant into a car seat and cleaning up spit-up (or worse). Have the groceries delivered to save time–maybe take a shower or nap instead.
Remember Your Own Needs
Yes, you are a parent. But you’re still your person, too. Balance bonding time with time for yourself when you can. Remember to take your medications, take a shower, drink water, and eat your favorite cookie. You have needs too, don’t neglect yourself for too long.
To balance the time for yourself and your mental health, it will be equally important to bond with others. Bond with your partner, or your village. Bond with the new baby. Soak in the good moments with mindfulness (a skill that can be learned with meditation practice).
Hobbies, remember those? Do something that you love and something that brings you joy. Remember, you are your own person too and you deserve to do things you enjoy when the opportunity arises. Perhaps you do a speed painting of the sunset, or you bake cookies, or you simply feed the ducks at the local pond.
When a Tough Moment Comes
Remember: the nights are long but the years are short. At times we need a gentle reminder that the tough moments will pass. You are not perfect, you are still learning, and things will become a little easier over time.