02 Mar Newborns: Caring For Them AND Yourself
The care of a newborn can be challenging. As you navigate the joy of this new addition to your family, recognizing the effect a baby has on a family and learning how to soften that impact can make life much easier. Reflecting on these early days from my own family provides some thoughts that may enlighten friends and family members of newborn parents to help with the transition and demands of a newborn.
Newborn parents need to get sleep. This is definitely true for both breastfeeding moms as well as for dads participating in the routine middle-of-the-night care. The challenging reality of having older children, especially toddlers and preschoolers, is they want your undivided attention during the day. So parents of newborns, get sleep anywhere you can find it. If the baby is sleeping and you’re not, you should either be feeling good or have a very good reason why you’re not taking a nap.
Allow friends and family to help out. I think this was the hardest to do with my first. I was tough and thought maybe I could do it all and if not then surely my wife could. (More like, I sure hoped she could do it all and maybe I could pick up a little of the slack.) There is nothing like a newborn to display your own selfishness. You will also quickly learn how incredibly needy they are! Allowing friends and family to help you with things like meals or playdates for your older children is a healthy way to have more time for other things, including sleep. Remember, these people care about you and are more than happy to help! If they’ve had children, they know what you’re going through.
Be sure to eat healthily and exercise. Being sleep-deprived, you may not be motivated to get out or even be selective about what you eat. But breastfeeding moms, in particular, need to eat healthy both for themselves and the newborns they are feeding. A daily walk or routine of exercise is good for the body and the mind as it does more than just burn off the casserole calories. This can be hard to do if you feel like life and your task list is getting on top of you. Make sure to take care of yourself and even ask for help if you can tell things are becoming overwhelming. The rates of “baby blues” for moms and dads are around 15% and 10% respectively. If there is a history of depression in the family, these rates can be higher.
The care of a newborn is continuous, not complex. Simply put, infants eat, sleep, pee, poop, and cry. Repeat. So when you’re not feeding, changing diapers, holding, or bathing the little one, be sure to rest, eat well, and make it a priority not to overlook your self-care when devoting so much of your time to the little one. If your child’s activity or patterns are concerning, consult your pediatrician.
As always, we are available and happy to help here at Compass Pediatrics. Contact us Monday through Friday from 7:30 AM to 4:30 PM!
Scott Huitink, MD FAAP
Dr. Scott Huitink loves being a Pediatrician and strives to support parents in the care of their children by encouraging, educating, and providing them with up-to-date medical expertise. His passion to provide high quality, personable, pediatric care can be seen in his face-to-face visits with children, his insights provided through his Facebook Page–“Compass Peds”, and his interest in improving the well-being of the community around him. Dr. Huitink has a wide array of experience in the care of children from newborns to young adults and has been instrumental in the education and implementation of clinical standards. He is Board Certified in Pediatrics and is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics and can be found seeing patients in the Nashville area at Compass Pediatrics.