Those first few days at home with your baby will probably be a bit of a blur - a non-stop mix of nappies, night feeds, nerves and new experiences. It’s an exciting time, but you might well be feeling tired, emotional and even a little weepy. Remember, it’s baby steps for both of you. You’ll quickly get the hang of looking after your little one, but it’s important to remember to look after yourself, too. So, say yes to any offers of help, remember to eat, and drink lots of water to stay hydrated. Read on for more tried and tested, straight-talking tips for new parents.
Common questions newborn parents have
What can I do if I'm feeling a bit depressed or anxious?
Depression and anxiety are common, but some mums try to hide how they feel because they worry that people will think they aren’t coping with their baby. Everyone needs some help from time to time. Your GP or health visitor will do all they can to support you and your baby together.
In the first few days after the birth, you and your new baby are getting to know each other, and there’s a huge amount to take in. Caring for a new baby can be exhausting, and it’s perfectly normal to feel a bit down after the birth. For helpful advice on how to cope with tiredness, changes in your body, relationships, and how you might be feeling, you can also visit Ready Steady Baby.
How do I know if it's postnatal depression or not?
Having a baby is a big change, and most of us will go through some ‘baby blues’ as we adjust to it. Postnatal depression lasts longer than this, and you can feel it a number of different ways. If you’re feeling lonely, sad or guilty, for example, you may be going through postnatal depression.
If you think you’re experiencing postnatal depression, or have struggled with mental health in the past, have a word with your midwife, health visitor or GP so they can get you the support you need.
How can I cope with the tiredness?
There’s one thing all new parents have in common and it’s that they all feel exhausted. Not only is having a baby a life changing experience, but your newborn’s sleep patterns can be erratic and they might only be sleeping for a couple of hours at a time. It’s also normal that they’ll want feeding at night. The best you can do is get sleep when your baby sleeps, rather than expecting one long sleep.
A bit of gentle exercise and a good diet will help you feel better not only because you’re putting good fuel in your body but a change of scene can help calm your baby and make you feel better too.
Will my relationship with my partner change?
When you welcome a baby into your life, it can be tricky to balance the wee one’s needs with everyone else in the family. Dealing with your own feelings isn’t always easy either.
In theory, having a baby should bring you and your partner closer. In reality, it can strain the best of relationships. You can both be tired, feel that your world has been turned upside down, and it’s not unusual for partners to feel ‘left out’. That’s why it’s important to try and keep communicating about how you both feel, and help each other to look after the baby together.
What's the best way to cope with being a single parent?
If you're bringing up a baby on your own, don't be afraid to ask for help. Being a new parent can be tough for anyone, so talk to your family and friends, and let them know what you need. Other single parents can also be a great source of support, especially if their circumstances are similar to yours. It can be really helpful to chat to someone who understands the emotions, and the challenges, you might be facing. Your midwife may be able to put you in touch with someone.
How long should I wait before getting back to exercise after I've given birth?
Your first few weeks after birth can be exhausting – both physically and emotionally. No matter what kind of labour you experience, your body will have been through a lot and needs time to recover. Don’t race back to exercise - it’s always best to speak to your health visitor or GP first, to tell them how you’re feeling and discuss an exercise plan.
When can I have sex again?
You can have sex as soon as you’re ready. Your body might take time to recover, and you might not be ready emotionally for a while, so don’t rush it. Keep talking to your partner about how you feel, and when you are ready your GP will help you find the right contraception solution. There’s more information on sex after you’ve given birth and contraception here.