There’s little that can prepare you for the moment you take your newborn baby home. They don’t come with an instruction manual. It’s a steep learning curve and it’s natural to feel overwhelmed. It’s an exciting yet daunting time.
After the birth of your child, you may experience a spell of the baby blues, they’re tough but also completely normal. If you’ve been diagnosed with Post-Natal Depression, or perhaps you’re already living with depression, then the feelings of anxiousness and apprehension can add to the overwhelm. You may worry that you’re not enough, don’t know enough and doubt your ability to be a good parent.
With the help of our Peer Support Group we have put together some coping tips for new parents, from parents living with depression. Sometimes the most helpful pieces of advice are tried and tested gems of knowledge and understanding handed from one parent to another. The great thing is that you can adapt these to suit you.
It can be hard to accept help especially when you are experiencing depression. Sometimes it feels like there is extra pressure on parents to keep going even if they are struggling. Asking for help is tough. But, it’s not a sign of failure or an indicator that you aren’t coping – having a new baby is such a big deal. We’ve put together some sources of online support which may help.
“It takes a village to raise a child.” – African Proverb
“It takes a long time to recover from labour even without depression. Get as much sleep as possible. Ask people you trust to look after the baby so you can sleep/rest. You need to be looked after as much as your baby. Accept help, even for an hour to sleep/shower or going to health professionals to get long term help. A happy, content mummy makes a happy, content baby.” – Ella
“I used Homestart with my second. A volunteer came weekly for a few hours. I referred myself due to depression. The volunteer was a godsend. I found it good to do classes that helped me to interact with my children. Hartbeeps classes in particular helped me keep going and enjoy special moments with my daughter when I lacked motivation and confidence.” – Ella
Home-Start is one of the leading family support charities in the UK. You can contact Home Start via their website.
Try to keep talking about how you are feeling. If you can be honest and open about how you are doing, the people around you will be able to help you in the way that you need.
“Talking about how I was feeling, not putting too much pressure on myself and accepting help.” – Rin Hamburgh
Timetable of visitors
Having a timetable of visitors is a great way of easing your anxiety you when you get home. You have to do what is comfortable for you – if you don’t want to see anyone for a few days then that is fine, people will understand.
“After the birth of my daughters first child, I went to collect them from the hospital and by the time we got home 20 mins later we had a house full of visitors all wanting to meet the baby and it was constant visitors for the next week, which took its toll on my daughter who was suffering with depression. She recently had her second child and we set up a timetable of when people could visit.
The day they came home no visitors were allowed for the first 3 hrs and then only parents and grandparents were allowed. Second day wider family, aunties, uncles etc and the 3rd day no visitors. By doing this it allowed my daughter time to settle back into the routine of having a newborn again, gave my granddaughter time to bond with her new brother and gave my daughter time to rest and recover.” – Treena Roberts
Stock up with food
“A week or two before I had my son, me and my Mum made up loads of meals that we put in the freezer – things like curry, bolognese, chilli and during those first few weeks at home with the baby we didn’t need to worry about food.” – Amy Trevaskus
Getting the food in ahead of time is such a great idea. It takes the pressure off you having to think about what to eat when you get home. Plus, it means you don’t have to think about going out during those first few days.
Quote Book/ Journal
Often writing something down can feel like a relief, it’s out there in the open. Keeping a journal can help if you have things on your mind that you feel you can’t say out loud. You can chose to share it with people or keep it just for you.
“And also to keep a journal, even if you can only jot down bullet points about how you’re feeling.” – Rin Hamburgh
“Something that helped was that someone said to me when everything was seeming so slow and long and painful – “everything is momentary, it happens and it passes, take in each moment and know that it’s a phase, it’ll pass and when you look back, it will seem fleeting” – Suzi Hull
“If possible get family and friends to add their advice or quotes and put the book away in a safe place. Then when you are struggling, during those times that you haven’t slept for days, your baby screams every time you put them down, your covered in vomit and poo and have been so busy and stressed that you have trouble remembering your own name. Put baby in their crib, walk out of the room and get your book out. It will remind you that you are NOT Super woman and also that no one expects you to be.” – Treena Roberts
Chances are that you won’t be getting much sleep for a while until your baby starts to settle. If you can’t sleep when the baby sleeps then try to relax by watching your favourite TV show or getting into a box set. Self-care at this time, is super important.
“Get some sleep when you can, look after each other (mum and dad and baby) and stock up on DVD / Box sets for late night feeding sessions” – Jonathan Paxton
Be kind to yourself
You are doing something completely new to you, it’s natural to feel disorientated, unsettled and unsure during this time. Be kind and patient with yourself as you take on this new role and don’t beat yourself up for mistakes, we all make them as we find our feet growing into parenthood.
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