Having a new baby—especially a first baby—is something that no book can really prepare anyone for. Life can seem to be turned upside down as Mum and Dad adjust to the new arrival, and they may wonder how long things are going to seem so topsy-turvy.
Some women suffer from post-partum depression. This is potentially a serious condition and requires urgent medical help. While it’s perfectly normal to struggle to adjust to a new baby, anyone with sustained feelings of depression or despair is likely to have post-partum depression, and can be helped with an appropriate intervention, possibly including medication for a time.
However, even women with no depression can find that a new baby poses significant challenges to their emotional well-being—and it can be hard for men, too. We spend our young lifetimes constructing an identity, which can seem to be threatened when we have to add “Mum” or “Dad” to it. Couples whose emotional well-being has been very dependent on being with the other can find it tricky to return to their sweet space when there is a third person in the house. On top of all that, new parents are often dealing with sleep deprivation, and women may have to manage uncomfortable symptoms such as mastitis, or healing episiotomy scars, while also caring for the new arrival.
When will I get back on track?
So, will life ever get back to normal? Of course it will—it’s just that “normal” will not be exactly the same as it was before. As the baby gets older, they will become able to sleep through the night, and sleep deprivation will become a thing of the past. Aches and pains resulting from giving birth will get better. Gradually, the couple will have more time to just be together.
When a new baby is born, the most important thing is not to feel a sense of urgency about getting back to “normal”. Mothers need to give themselves time to heal—because even the easiest of births leaves one feeling sore and battered—and mums and dads alike need time to adjust to the dramatic change in their situation. If they are lucky enough to have help on hand, now is the time to call on it. Paying for a weekly cleaning service, if the budget stretches that far, or taking friends and family up on offers of help with practical chores like housework and grocery shopping, can make a big difference when it comes to weathering those intense first weeks. It’s also important not to fret about things not being “perfect”. All a baby needs is to be warm, comfortable, fed, and loved. Babies don’t know or care whether or not their nursery is tastefully decorated, or if Mum has had her hair done lately. Accepting that adjusting to the baby takes time, and that things don’t have to be perfect, will make things easier for everyone.
Who can I speak to about getting my life back to normal?
For help getting your life back to normal with a baby around, speak to one of our therapists here at Private Therapy Clinic for a free initial chat or to make an appointment.