Early Parenting Challenges
It's a common scenario, a new parent sitting alone in their home, thinking they are the only one having challenges with the transition of becoming a family. Whether it's breastfeeding, sleep, health concerns or a sibling adjusting to the baby, it's not easy and can feel quite daunting. I remind new parents that they are definitely not the only ones going through a tough patch, but we rarely ever see what happens in other families homes in those first few weeks.
Sometimes, our idea of what it should be like is terribly unrealistic. Often, we see families out and about, they seem to be handling this transition flawlessly and we may start to judge ourselves according to what we see. What we may not realize is that their baby is likely weeks if not months older than a delicate newborn. Perhaps the birthing parent has had time to recover physically from the birth, perhaps the partner was able to take a lot of time off work to be home and help with the new baby...maybe they even had support day and night to help them all get some rest and ease into parenting. Regardless of someone else's story, it probably wasn't a breeze at first, and there are adjustments for everyone. The problem as I see it, is that we tend to go through these adjustments and challenges alone. Here in Squamish, the majority of the families I support do not have a large network of family and friends close by to help out once baby arrives. Instead of having a conversation with a relative or friend, there is a tendency to jump online to diagnose and validate our feelings but with the overwhelming amount of information at our fingertips that in itself can be its own stressor! So what to do? Well, for starters, be gentle with yourselves in this transition. And know that the majority of new parents aren't floating seamlessly through this transition. It is very important, essential really, to build your tribe and create that network of "family" and friends if you do not have that.
Meeting other families while you're still pregnant can be a great way to build this community. In Squamish we have great yoga and fitness classes, prenatal classes, community centres, HPOP etc.. Squamish Baby does a great job of listing local gatherings, I highly recommend having that site on your radar.
And remember, once your baby arrives, it's OK to stay in and go into hibernation mode. There are so many changes that take place in those first few weeks, and often the birthing parent is still quite vulnerable. Having loving support around you is one of the best things you can do for your recovery and transition into early parenting. And know that there's no right way to do this, you will always do what is best for you and your family in the moment. It gets better, it really does.