I know it sounds off, but it isn’t. It’s absolutely correct. Parenthood can come with a ton of new stressors. In fact, some of the studies on relationship issues after a new baby have horrible results. You’ll never convince a new mother, and yes, especially a first-time mother, to stop hovering and worrying, but you can help her to understand that going full force on all things, sticking to rigid schedules, and other anxiety-laden elements of new parenthood isn’t going to be the solution. Your newborn needs you to work as a team, so here are a few ways in which you can lower your expectations and relieve some of the stress you might be feeling.
Why Your Newborn Needs You to Lower Your Expectations
If you’ve found yourself or your relationship with your family pushed to the limit due to time constraints or excessive exhaustion, consider a few of these tips to relieve your body physically, or even more importantly, emotionally.
Stop Dressing the Baby Up
There’s no rules here. Your baby doesn’t have to look presentable at all times, to all visitors, from near and far. And ohh, they will come. But in no way are you obligated to fancy up your newborn in complicated outfits, likely creating more stress as you worry over how stained it’s going to be after the first feeding in it. STOP! Just stop. Leave that baby in what’s comfortable for you and the baby. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with utility pajamas ALL day and ALL night. If your baby is dry, clean and healthy, and the clothing they are wearing is more easily managed around diapers and feedings, that’s all you need.
Stay Out of the Tub
You don’t have to bathe your baby every morning on schedule, or every night before bed. You just don’t. In fact, most medical professionals will tell you that over-bathing you or baby is always a bad idea. It creates dry skin and the need for more lotions versus the skins natural oils. It also creates a production. Pre-bath rituals, post-bath dressups. Whatever. Just save yourself the time. Unless your baby develops bad smells from spitups or pee soaks, you really don’t need to dunk them in the bathtub after every icky diaper. Also keep in mind that especially with newborns, and especially with preemies, babies can have a difficult time with regulating body temperature. So what you think might be a pleasant warm bath, might not be good for baby. If you’ve ever seen your baby’s lip shivering in a warm tub you’ll know what I mean.
Let Baby Sleep
No matter how much you’re tempted or how much imagined guilt you’re suffering, just don’t wake a sleeping baby. Use that time for yourself, catch up on the phone with an old friend, but don’t wake the baby up to keep up with a schedule you have in your head. Doing so will only ultimately lead to frustration and a feeling of failure as a parent when the schedule goes off kilter. And it will. There’s no need to set you or your baby up for definite failure on what is a very natural element of newborn parenthood, better known as flying by the seat of your pants or winging it. Your baby is unlikely to adhere to any true schedule whether it comes to sleeping or eating. And on that matter…..
Feed the Baby when she/he is Hungry
I know it can be compelling to want to stick to a schedule and you have also likely been advised to do so. However, like the sleeping issue, there’s really no reason to pressure yourself or your baby on this matter. Your baby will let you know when they’re hungry, without fail. And believe it or not, some of those earliest waking moments where you are normally off and running for the bottle, the breast pump, or preparing to feed, are some of the most amazing chances for bonding with your baby. If your newborn isn’t crying for food, maybe take that time to play with them, cuddle them, talk to them, play music to them. Of course if your newborn hasn’t eaten or wanted food in more than six hours, you may have a sick baby and will want to watch them more closely or contact your medical professional for more advice.
While every newborn is certainly different, the struggles are all mostly the same and they are very real. Don’t let your personal expectations of how life would be with a newborn shape your shared experiences. The chaos is normal but you can do a few things here and there to let up on the stress of your own expectations and to allot yourself a bit more personal time if needed.