For New Parents

Caring for Your Baby

The role of parents during the first few months of their child’s life is to “protect, nurture, and enjoy” their baby.

Sometimes, this can feel challenging when your baby is fussy or doesn’t sleep well. One way to soothe an infant is by using the 5 S’s: Swaddling, Side/stomach positioning (for holding, not for sleeping), Shushing, Swinging, and Sucking.

These first few months can be exhausting. Finding and enjoying the “magic moments” of connection, playfulness, and pleasure are important during these potentially stressful early months.

Click here for other tips on caring for a newborn during the pandemic from the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Caring for Yourself

Remember that feelings of frustration, loneliness, and exhaustion are common during the first few months of parenting. The cries of your newborn--and maybe even your own tears--do not mean that you are a “bad parent” or “can’t handle things.” Sadness, anxiety, and feeling overwhelmed are normal responses during this significant transition as you juggle incredible demands while struggling with sleep deprivation and other challenges of parenthood.

However, the normal stresses of having a newborn can be multiplied by the added challenges of a global pandemic. These struggles can become more difficult when the people you depend on for support aren’t able to visit in person. And because you aren’t able to leave the house as freely, you may feel trapped.

“Baby blues” and postpartum depression are both common experiences during the first few months of parenting. It is important to talk about difficult feelings with your friends and family as well as your doctor. Although many people are facing challenges right now, your loved ones want to support you, even virtually. If these feelings don't go away after about 2 weeks or make it hard to care for your baby, you should:

Untreated postpartum depression can hurt you, your baby, and your family. But speaking with a therapist or using medication can help. A list of available resources for new parents can be found here.

If you begin to feel that life is not worth living, think about hurting yourself or your baby, or if you see or hear things that aren't there, you should immediately:

  • Go to the nearest emergency room;

  • Call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255 or reach them online here;

  • Call or text the HopeLine at 919-231-4525 or 877-235-4525; and/or

  • Text the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741 to connect with a Crisis Counselor.

References