The Transition to Parenthood

Many people will cite the birth of their child (or the day they adopted their child) as the ‘happiest day of their life’.  Parenthood is an incredible journey, but is a huge transition. We are often lead astray by social media or advertising that parenthood is only rainbows and butterflies to then realise that the reality may actually be strained relationships and sleep deprivation. The key to managing this huge life transition is to prepare for reality.

Check your expectations.

The biggest advice for all the changes of becoming a parent is to manage your expectations. Perhaps you had expectations of a ‘pregnancy glow’ and kind strangers opening doors for you. Life will become frustrating when you realise that sometimes the reality is strangers rubbing your belly without asking, hormonal changes and pregnancy acne. Perhaps you weren’t prepared for all of the mood swings your partner is experiencing. After the baby comes, then there is a social pressure to feel overwhelmingly happy. How are you supposed to know what different cries mean, when the two of you have spent merely weeks together earth side? You are still getting to know one another. Preparing yourself for the hard times can help you manage this huge transition.

Relationships will be tested.

Marriages and relationships with family and friends can also become strained during the transition into motherhood or fatherhood. You may find yourself at odds with your partner and frustrated with family and friends who want to come see your new baby.  The best way to maintain your relationships is open and honest communication.  If your family and friends are doing something that makes you uncomfortable, speak up.  Share your struggles with your partner, and come up with a plan to help keep you both comfortable in this transition. Many couples report a decline in relationship satisfaction after the addition of children in the family. Know that you are not alone, and also that it is temporary. Reminding yourself that this is a season full of changes and challenges can provide you with comfort that things will not always be so complicated.

Self Care.

Self care is a common phrase used to help give your morale a little boost.  During the transition into parenthood, self care is simply vital for survival. Don’t feel guilty if you need time away from the baby and don’t be afraid to ask.  Be forgiving of yourself, in fact you are navigating a very complicated and scary process. You may make missteps, say the wrong things, but asking loved ones for forgiveness and most importantly forgiving yourself will help you during this process. If you recently gave birth, remember that not only are you on a crash course of learning how to parent, but you are physically needing to recover. If your partner gave birth, remember that you are not only trying to take care of a little human but you are trying to care for your partner. It is a lot to manage. Vocalise your needs.

Talk to someone

A combination of hormone changes in combination with the added life change can lead to postpartum depression, which is a type depression that impacts new mothers.  Almost 80% of all new mothers experience some form of ‘Baby Blues’. Baby blues is a term to describe a lesser form of depression that is seasonal, but does not quite meet the criteria for depression.  Don’t hesitate to reach out for support. If you feel as though you may be experiencing symptoms beyond what you feel is normal, reach out for support.  A psychologist can be a great support to parents transitioning into parenthood and provide support for postpartum depression if needed.  To book in a time to speak to a psychologist call us on (02) 6262 6157 or book an appointment online.

Related reading:

For Better or For Worse: Keeping your relationship strong through a crisis
Post Natal Depression
Why Resilience?

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