Just had a baby? Feel like it's all getting on top of you? Don't let things become too much grab some help or advice and put steps in place to make things easier.
Where to get help?
Middle of the night and baby won't stop screaming? Have a burning question and no one to ask? Every state and territory in Australia has recognised parenting lines (many operate 24 hours) which provide advice on issues like sleep, feeding and settling. For health concerns, consult your GP or nearest hospital or local early childhood nurse and centre. Some major children's hospitals also offer telephone health lines (normally these operate after hours and on weekends). Check with your nearest children's hospital for more information.
Get some help from an expert at Tresillian Family Care Centres.
There are lots of groups out there offering advice and support for new mums, so it's worth spending time looking at what's available. Often your local early childhood centre or the maternity hospital you attended will give you handouts regarding groups in your area.
Here are just a few:
- Australian Breastfeeding Association provides support to breastfeeding women. Mothers trained as volunteer counsellors are on hand throughout the day and night to be called or e-mailed for help when it comes to breastfeeding and baby care issues. They also have breastfeeding aids for sale along with lots of literature and breastfeeding classes and support groups for mothers of babies and toddlers.
- Sids and Kids the experts on safe sleeping techniques.
- Post and Antenatal Depression Association provides confidential information, support and referrals to anyone affected by antenatal depression.
Local childhood centre or GP
Your local childhood centre is a wealth of information when it comes to newborns. They're free to attend and the nurses know everything there is to know about coping with a newborn. Check with your local council for the nearest centre.
Once you have a baby, it's vital to find a GP who has experience with children and with whom you can communicate easily. Some GPs specialise in children's health and have lots of experience treating babies. Ask other mums in your area for recommendations.
Mothers groups can be a great way to form a network of friends in a similar situation and with babies of a similar age. Sure they're not for everyone, but be sure to give it a try before you dismiss the idea. Sometimes it can be great to hear you weren't the only one up pacing the hall the night before or that concerns you have are shared by many other new mums. In most states your local childhood health centre will set you up with a mothers group in your area. Other great places to form networks are through postnatal exercise or yoga classes or, once your baby is a bit bigger, playgroups and activities like music or baby gym classes.
If you're unable to join a mothers group, these days a lot of mums get together on the Web through chat rooms. Do some surfing to see what you can find.
Coping with sleep deprivation
Sleep is the one thing you need lots of when looking after a newborn but unfortunately your little one doesn't always allow this to happen. All the books say to sleep when baby sleeps and although this can be hard with all the tasks you need to get done (including trying to have a shower) or if your baby isn't a good sleeper, it is good advice. Things are so much worse when you're exhausted, so rest whenever the opportunity arises or have someone come and watch baby while you grab half an hour's rest.
Let the housework go
Once you bring baby home, it's time to stop being houseproud as there will be little or no time for housework. Limit visitors in the early days and then you won't feel you need to constantly tidy up. Housework can always wait, it's more important to get some rest.
Family and friends
This is the time when it's important to enlist the help of family and friends. Get them to help out with the cleaning, cooking and other household tasks that you or your partner probably just won't have time to even think about. Get your mum or mother-in-law to cook up a whole batch of food which you can freeze and get access to easily. Get friends to pick up groceries on the way to visiting.
Sisters, sisters-in-laws and close female friends can be a great wealth of information when it comes to coping with newborns. They may have been through it and will know what you are experiencing so be sure to ask for help.
Don't forget to take time out for yourself. When the baby's sleeping, have someone come around and watch them while you get out for a walk, have a rest or head to the nearest café for a quiet coffee and five minutes break. It will do wonders for your sanity.
Here are some of the more popular parenting books and websites:
- Baby Love, Robin Barker known Australia-wide, it's one of the best written resources for parents of babies (just ask any other parent if they used it!) It covers everything from sleep and feeding to development and health concerns.
- Kidwrangling, Kaz Cooke the follow-up to Up the Duff. Covers everything you need to know about coping with babies and toddlers.
- Save Our Sleep, Tizzi Hall all you need to know about babies and sleep.
- Sleeping Like a Baby, Pinky McKay another great sleeping resource.
- Breastfeeding With Confidence, Sue Cox breastfeeding advice from one of Australia's leading lactation educators.