If you have just joined the club…. congratulations on the safe arrival of your newly born child! If you are here looking for some help. Well done. Asking for some guidance is not always an easy thing to do.
Here are a few pointers from Clarinet, our Fegans trained Parent Support Worker. A must read for any sleep deprived new Dad. They come from personal experience, aren’t definitive, but are drawn from experience speaking with lots of other families welcoming home a new baby.
- Becoming a new parent can be really overwhelming. Please don’t be hard on yourselves. Remember to keep communication open between each other, if one of you is really down, then the other should try to encourage and if possible see if there is anything practical they can do to help in the situation.
- Accept that you can’t do it all. Assess your priorities – does your home need to be spotless each day?
- Use the services of the health visitors and midwives as much as you can in the early weeks and months. They are a mine of information and can sign post you if you need extra help.
- Keep a close eye on each other’s mental health. Don’t be afraid to see your GP if you are feeling down, or anxious. I speak from personal experience here. Talking is good, and with the right help, things can improve.
- Would you have some willing friends who would be able to cook a few meals for you for say a couple of weeks? This way you can both concentrate on just functioning and looking after baby. If not sign up to a meal planning service, just for a while… better than ordering pizza every night!
- Whilst you are at work, encourage your wife to sleep and rest when the baby sleeps. This is very early days, and with her being the person who is doing the feeding, she will need to keep her energy levels up as much as she can. Encourage your wife to drink water and eat regularly too.
- If you work shifts, is it possible for you to sleep in another room just to get some solid sleep? Your baby will (eventually) settle into a sleep pattern – the bigger they get the more food they will take on at a time, and the more alert they becomes for periods of time… then they will sleep better. Trust me… Hang on in there !
- If your family is happy to help out sometimes, why not see if they can have baby for a couple of hours in between feeds so you can both rest together? It may not be possible just yet if your baby is still little, but eventually when they can go longer in between feeds, this could work well.
- Try to remember that other people have been through what you are going through – life with a newborn. Do you have someone you could turn to at work to chat with if you’re feeling overwhelmed ? Others will be able to remember what it’s like not to have sleep. Ask for their tips too!
- Finally – it is a cliché, but try to hold on to what I call a “golden nugget” from each day. Keep a little notebook and write down a word or sentence of something good that has happened. E.g.” baby slept for three hours and we had a rest!” or when this happens -“baby smiled today for the first time!”
Be kind to yourselves, live one day at a time, or one hour at a time, and give yourselves a pat on the back when you make it through another day of the adventure that is parenthood!
Hope I’ve not sent you to sleep!