Welcoming a new baby into the family can be both exciting and overwhelming. As much as they love their little bundle of joy, parents can feel scared and unsure about their new role. According to the World Health Organization, 10% of expectant mothers and 13% of postpartum women experience mental health challenges, such as anxiety or depression. Research shows that one-in-seven moms suffer from postpartum depression, while postpartum anxiety—excessive worry, racing thoughts, and feelings of dread—affects 10% of new mothers. Mental health for new moms is essential to keep an eye on, but what about new fathers?
Fatherhood is a significant milestone in a man’s life. According to Psychology Today, in the first year of their child’s life, depression strikes 25% of new dads. In the past, little light was shed on the stress levels of new fathers. Professionals spend countless hours helping new mothers find their footing, yet men have been left to negotiate these feelings independently. When men feel supported and secure, the entire family benefits.
Valley Oaks has tips and techniques to help new parents decrease stress, boost energy, and take better care of themselves during this new chapter.
Know the signs
The quicker you recognize symptoms of distress, support can be put into place. Symptoms can include the following:
- Irregular sleeping beyond what’s standard with a newborn
- Extreme sadness
- Loss of concentration
- No desire to enjoy the company of others
Some men and women report experiencing a lack of desire to connect with their newborn emotionally. Contact your doctor immediately if any of these signs or symptoms occur.
A little bit of self-care can go a long way when you’re a new parent. Take a sliver of time to enjoy a favorite activity, like hitting the gym or grabbing coffee with a friend. Giving yourself a break helps you refocus and remind yourself you’re more than a parent: you are also an individual.
When people ask if they can bring dinner or run a few errands on your behalf, let them! Babies need a lot of time and attention. Delegating tasks can improve your mental health. Your mother-in-law may not fold the laundry as you would, yet having matched socks and clean underwear in the drawers beats overflowing laundry baskets. Your best friend may not mow the lawn like a game-day baseball field, yet taking that task off your plate gives you time to focus on other things.
It may be time to minimize distractions so you can get the rest you need. Time spent scrolling through Pinterest is less time napping. Liking and commenting on photos before bed doesn’t settle your mind like meditating or reading a book. It’s not selfish to replenish your energy, and that includes getting plenty of distraction-free rest when possible.
There’s nothing like on-the-job-training. Be patient with yourself. Let internal dialogue about yourself be kind. Remember, every new parent has been in your shoes, even the ones putting their perfect photo-ops on social media. Remind yourself that you are an amazing parent who’s doing their very best to meet their baby’s needs. All the compassion as you show to your little one with? Shower yourself with just as much.
Join a group
Support groups for new parents are a great learning resource and provide a connection with people who’ve been there and done that. From pediatrician recommendations to which bottle works best, you can gather information from others then choose what works best for you and your baby.
Focusing on your mental health is just as crucial as paying attention to your physical health. Valley Oaks is here for moms and dads when you need extra parenting support. You are not alone on your parenting journey no matter the age of your children. Let us know how we can help!