Adjusting to Parenthood

Adjusting to parenthood begins in pregnancy and continues throughout the child’s life. Learning to be a parent is a slow process made up of physical and emotional demands. Below are some tips to help you adjust.

  • Be flexible. The best-made plans may need to be changed. Find a routine that is comfortable for you and family members.
  • Communicate. Take time to talk with your husband, the baby’s father, or other support person about day-to-day life. If you are part of a couple, go out as a couple and keep your romance alive.
  • Take care of yourself. Meeting your own personal needs helps you meet the needs of other family members.
  • Make rest and sleep a priority.
  • Get away by yourself for some personal time.
  • Don’t be “house proud.” Let housework slide and enjoy your baby.
  • Use your resources and ask family and friends for help.
  • Share your feelings with other new parents.
  • Take advantage of community services, such as family centers, play groups, babysitting co-ops, and other programs like Mother’s Day Out.

Helping older children adjust

The birth of a new baby is always a time of change for older children.

Before Birth

Make the new baby seem real by letting your other children:

  • Feel the baby move
  • Talk to the baby close to your belly
  • Help choose names for the baby
  • Help you get the baby’s room ready
  • Come to your prenatal appointment to listen to the baby’s heart beat

After Birth

Keep your other children from feeling left out by letting them:

  • Bring a stuffed animal or other gift to the new baby when visiting the hospital
  • Attach their picture to the baby’s crib
  • Pass out pink or blue lollipops at day care center or school
  • Have a special gift you got just for them
  • Hold the new baby after washing their hands well

Take time to adjust by having your partner, a family member, or a friend care for the infant so you can spend time with your older children. Expect it to take 6 weeks or longer to get used to having a baby in the family. Most importantly, enjoy your family.

Reviewed January 2011

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