So, You’re Going to Be a New Parent?
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So, You're Going to Be a New Parent?

A health article from Dr. John Spitzer, a pediatrician at Bronson Primary Care Partners.

First and foremost, congratulations! As you approach your baby’s due date, it is hard to believe the time has finally come. It’s common to experience a wide range of emotions at this time, including feelings of excitement to anxiety, and from confidence to feelings of insecurity. All of these thoughts and feelings are very normal!

It is certainly a time to rejoice, but just like any new adventure in life, there are always challenges. Here are some tips to consider as you get ready for the arrival of your new infant.

Take Care of Yourself Physically

Look at taking care of your new baby as a long run rather than a sprint. Here are a few suggestions to keep in mind:

  • Eat properly, healthy and at the right times. Stay hydrated and drink plenty of fluids. Sometimes running low on fluids can affect our stamina, which can cause fatigue.
  • Sleep whenever you have the opportunity, particularly when the baby sleeps. It’s okay to take naps during the day because you will be up in the middle of the night with feedings and diaper changes.
  • Go for walks or try to exercise. Not only will this help you with your overall stamina, but it will be a good mental break. Just be sure to follow your doctor’s orders, and maintain a level of endurance close to the level you had before giving birth.

Take Care of Yourself Mentally

Treat yourself and your partner with kindness. It’s common for both of you to have anxieties at the beginning as your baby did not come with a manual. Here are some tips on how to navigate and deal with your uncertainties at the beginning:

  • Trust your instinct and adjust your expectations. Know that you are going to make mistakes and it will be okay. I find it amazing how resilient babies are despite the mistakes we make as parents.
  • Don’t forget to improvise on plan B. I heard this saying once and it has become a good way for me to operate in life. Sometimes our best laid plans don’t work out for reasons unforeseen. I then move to plan B and something else comes up that makes me improvise on that plan before everything works out. It takes patience!
  • Expect stress and therefore, learn to build resilience. Develop a belief that you can do it and before you know it, you will be conquering mountains!
  • Acknowledge there may be some feelings of uncertainty as you start to feel tired after the first four to six weeks of your baby being home. There’s an expectation you should be “happy” all the time, as everybody seems to be happy for you. However, you may also be wondering, “I can’t believe we are doing this.” You are not the only one to feel this way at this stage, and it will pass as your baby starts to become social and interact with you.
  • As a new parent, you are going to transform personally and will leave behind a little of that care-free person you used to be. Remind yourself, it’s okay to change.
  • Find your support group and don’t be afraid to ask for help. There will be some advice that makes sense to you, and some that will not. Use your common sense and acknowledge your limits on certain types of advice to know when to take it and when to leave it.

What Kind of Milk to Use?

Trying to decide between breast milk and formula can sometimes be a challenge. For some moms, this is not an issue as they may immediately feel comfortable with breastfeeding. However, for other moms and families this can be a challenge as there may be some uncertainty towards breastfeeding. Science has shown that breast milk is superior to infant formula, but the advances made on the development of formula has brought it pretty close to breast milk.

Rest assured, babies can grow up healthy whether on breast milk or on formula. In fact, if you were to line up a bunch of five-year-old’s going to kindergarten, you will not be able to separate who was breastfed and who was formula-fed.

Baby Development

It's a good idea to understand baby development for the first few months as you gradually get physically and emotionally tired. Here are some key points:

  • The basics of baby care the first four to six weeks is about feeding, burping the baby, changing the diaper, and then having the baby go back to sleep. It’s easy to get physically exhausted doing this 24 hour a day, seven days a week. But right around four to six weeks of age, your baby will start to smile socially at you and will begin to communicate with you by making cooing sounds. This is exciting and adds a new dimension to your bond that makes parenting worth it!
  • Look forward to bonding with your baby. Similar to dating, you can learn about the baby’s temperament early on and what soothes them. Knowing how easily they can calm down after a noise (we call this habituation) and whether there were any difficulties during the pregnancy can help determine how noisy to let the house be. Stressful pregnancies, especially if drugs were involved, can lead to a baby that may “stress out” easily. This infant may need a quiet home for some time to gradually allow them to handle noise and stresses in the household. Some infants’ temperaments are such that, despite a normal pregnancy, they become irritated easily. These infants also may need to have their “daily dose” of household energy gradually increased, allowing the infant to adjust with time.
  • To create a relaxed and quiet environment in the house, try playing classical music. Not only will this be good for the baby, but you may also find yourself relaxed too!
  • Things will get easier after the first two months as your baby becomes more social and learns how to interact with you. In addition, after approximately four months of age, you can expect your baby to clock about 6-8 hours of sleep at night as they have doubled their birth weight and built up enough baby fat to maintain their blood sugar through part of the night.

Take Care of Your Partner

When parenting with a partner, working as a team is key to providing the best care possible for your baby. This means digging deeper into getting to know each other and trying to understand how you each react under certain circumstances. It is easy to accidently exclude your partner while taking care of the baby as you may subconsciously be thinking your way is better. Or it may be easy for you to become defensive as your partner suggests another option on handling a problem. Here are some questions to consider as you try to better understand one another and how you will blend your experiences/beliefs as you take care of your baby:

  • What was your home life like when you were a child?
  • How did your parents raise you?
  • How did your parents act when they ran out of patience?
  • Did your parents ever spank?
  • Did your parents have a good technique for handling stress?
  • Were both your parents involved in raising the children or was it a single parent mission?
  • Did your parents have any problems with anxiety or depression, and how did they cope with these mental health issues?

How About Daycare?

Planning daycare can be difficult. Dealing with the pain of separation is hard to measure as you contemplate your financial and professional needs. It’s common to experience feelings of anxiety as you explore daycare options. There is no correct decision, but only the one that suits your family, as stated by Robin McClure in Very Well Family, and as you gather information from family and friends. However, having a plan in place will relieve some stress as you near that time. And don’t forget, sometimes we must improvise on plan B!

Last but not least is one of my all-time favorite tips of advice: Don’t forget to keep dating! When parenting with a partner, the two of you are most important to each other and you need to continue to be on solid ground, making each other feel special.

If you have any questions or concern, your child’s pediatrician a call! Don’t have a pediatrician yet? Find one at bronsonhealth.com/find-a-doc.

References

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About the Author

Dr. John Spitzer is a pediatrician at Bronson Primary Care Partners in Texas Corners. He is accepting new patients now.

“I am thankful every day to be a pediatrician. I enjoy being able to work with kids. They are honest, sometimes silly, and always bring pure sweetness. They are deserving of the best care and compassion that I can provide.”

Discover His Care Philosophy