Tips for building emotional resilience as a new parent
Welcoming a new baby into the world is a time of great celebration for the family, the start of a whole new phase of life, especially if the new arrival is a first born. It’s one of life’s great challenges, with great rewards. However, often the challenge hits us hard and is not always the joyous, happy, new beginning we imagine. Emotional resilience is a person’s ability to bounce back from the stresses and challenges of life, big or small. Can they take things in their stride or do they let things knock them sideways?
Here are my top three tips for building emotional resilience as you ride the rollercoaster of new parenthood:
1. Take it one day at a time
The first few days after a baby’s arrival are a time of great excitement, celebration and happiness. Of course, new mom has to deal with the sore nipples, sore bottom and all-over-the-place hormones but on the whole it’s a wonderful thing!As a new mother you’re running on adrenalin in the first few days, but that shortly wears off and the tiredness kicks in, along with the shift in hormones and realization of the new responsibility you now have for the rest of your life!
Try to focus on the present. At this time you should have nothing else needing your attention, your newborn needs you.
Delegate household tasks – things may not be to your usual standard today-but tomorrow is another day. You deserve support at this time, accept help from family and friends. If you try to do everything you will struggle. Focus on what your baby needs.
Accept each day as it comes and always look for the positives. Keep things in perspective, it’s about living in the moment. Soon you’ll be able to think long term again.
Accept you’re still wearing maternity clothes for now! They say “It takes nine months to grow your baby so it will take at least nine months to be you again!”
2. Talk. It’s so much better when you talk about it!
New mums have a reputation for sometimes saying things are going better than they really are for fear of looking like a failure! However some amazing friendships are built on sharing, and talking about how things are going, sharing advice and just being there to listen to each other.
Don’t bottle it up! If there is something you’re struggling with, or just everything (!) you’ll know who you can trust to chat to. They won’t see you as a failure, just as a normal new mum who needs support.
Avoid people who are not supportive, who criticize you or make you feel worse about yourself.
Get your worries and frustrations out in the open, what’s the worst that can happen? You might just find a friendly ear and the support you need. Make the most of the professionals around you at this time.
Midwives, health visitors and peer supporters are there to help build your confidence, remind you that everything you are going through is normal and that you will emerge intact in a few months’ time!
3. Accept this rite of passage as a challenge, not the end of life as you know it.
There’s no doubt about it, those first few months of a new baby’s life, along with the sleepless nights, seem to go on forever at the time. When we look back it was fleeting and many of us wished we had slowed down and enjoyed our babies more when they were little!
Life will never be the same as it was before. It’s a whole new phase of your life, with new phases to look forward to, for most of us our children are the most amazing things in our lives! It’s not always easy to adapt, but it’s worth it!
Take time for you, whatever that may be. It’s normal to pine for your old life when things are tough but bringing new life into the world and seeing your babies grow and develop is precious, and a privilege. You’ll see what I mean when the fog has lifted. And it will. In all this, look after yourself.
It’s true the challenges of new parenthood are many, but the rewards even greater. In the meantime look after yourself and be kind to yourself. Eat well, take time to sleep, and get outdoors for some fresh air every day, keep that spring in your step.
You are parents now and you mean the world to someone very small! What mantras or support networks helped you through tough times after giving birth?
By Vicki Scott
Baby Feeding and Wellbeing Advisor at Philips AVENT