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As a new parent, you may be surprised by the significant emotional challenges of parenthood. It’s perfectly normal for new parents to feel overwhelmed. After all, you are now caring for a newborn 24 hours a day! That’s why it’s so important for you to slow down and set aside a few weeks to adjust to your new roles, get to know your baby, share your feelings with your partner, and take care of yourself.
Feelings of frustration are normal, and may signal you need to take a break. Call upon trusted friends and relatives willing to care for your baby for a short time. Another way to cope is to put your baby in a safe place, like a crib, and leave the room for a few minutes. Never shake your baby. This can cause damage to your baby’s brain and even death. If you are overwhelmed by stressful feelings, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
Parenting is rewarding, but challenging, so we encourage all parents to take advantage of local parent education programs, including those offered through Women’s Hospital and several United Way agencies, such as Family Service of the Piedmont and the Family Life Council.
The Baby Blues
Many new mothers experience the “baby blues.” The baby blues are different from postpartum depression and include a wide range of symptoms.
Signs of the Baby Blues
- Mood Swings
- Crying spells
- Changes in appetite
- Wanting to sleep more or being unable to sleep
The baby blues are perfectly normal and should not worry you. While at first your symptoms may be caused by hormone changes, they are mostly caused by the big role adjustment you are making.
Your partner may also experience some of these symptoms and feelings – they have a new role to get used to as well. They might feel left out as you bond with your new baby. Remembering this is a period of change and taking time to openly share how each of you are feeling can help nurture your relationship.
It’s important for both parents to remember to slow things down. Try not to take on too much outside of caring for your newborn in these first few weeks. Setting this time aside can be hard, but it is easier than falling into the trap of trying to be “Supermom” or “Superdad.” It’s important to not overcommit yourself so you can stay healthy and take time to connect with your new baby.
Reach out for extra help from family, and talk to your health care provider if you’re overwhelmed.
Feeling overwhelmed is normal in the first few weeks of pregnancy, but about one in 10 new moms experience postpartum depression. Postpartum depression is different from the baby blues – while baby blues go away within a few weeks, postpartum depression can last for much longer and is much more intense. Symptoms of postpartum depression may occur any time after birth, usually within a year, or your baby blues may linger and grow more severe.
Signs of Postpartum Depression
- Sadness, doubt, guilt, irritability, hopelessness or uncontrollable crying that get worse each week and interferes with your ability to take care of yourself or your baby.
- Trouble handling your usual responsibilities.
- Not being able to sleep at night when you are tired, even when your baby is asleep.
- Lack of interest in things you used to like.
- Worrying too much or being too concerned about your baby.
- Fear of harming your baby or yourself.
With skilled professional help, postpartum depression is treatable and temporary. If untreated, symptoms can worsen or last longer than they need to, so reaching out for help is an important first step.
We are here to help you with postpartum depression. If you are concerned about postpartum depression, talk to your physician and learn more about Cone Health’s Mom Talk Support Group. This group is led by a registered nurse and enables new mothers to support each other. To learn more, call (336) 832-6682.
Occasional feelings of anger and resentment toward the demands of the baby are normal and occur with most parents. But sometimes those feelings are so overwhelming that parents fear they may hurt their baby. If you should have this feeling or find you are having trouble responding to your baby’s needs, seek help immediately.
Safe Surrender Law
In North Carolina, we have a Safe Surrender Law. This means that a baby who is seven days old or younger may be surrendered to “any responsible adult” without legal consequences. A “responsible adult” may be an on-duty healthcare provider, law enforcement officer, social services worker, or emergency medical services worker. Call 911 for assistance, if needed.