Get to know what your parenting expectations are so when the unrealistic expectations creep in, you can kick them to the curb!
Have you heard that “your expectations determine your reality?” It is so true especially when it comes to having a new baby at home. Your body, daily routines, sleeping, eating, showering and all your activities are going to change. It will be a time of transitions and adjustment, not just for you but for everybody in your household. Embrace it! Talk about it and most importantly, believe that you can do it!
When you don’t know, what you don’t know, how do you know what to prepare for?
Setting unrealistic expectations only makes your job as an exhausted parent harder than it has to be. In all my years supporting families I have yet to meet a mom that is not exhausted, does not want to cry or parts of her body are sore at some point in the first week. It is normal to have ALL these feelings. If you go into parenting with realistic expectations, the early days of parenting don’t seem so bad.
Parents should expect that
- Cry, sometimes a lot
- Typically do not sleep at night but love to sleep during the day
- Nurse a lot, possibly 15-20 times in a 24-hour period
- Prefer to sleep on a person, not by themselves
- WILL likely pee on by you at some point
- Go through diapers and clothes like crazy
- May feel like a Mack truck has hit you on day 3 or 4
- May bleed through your clothes
- Breast milk may leak through your clothes and all over your bed sheets
- Happy one minute, sad the next
- Wish someone else could feed the baby
- Long for alone time and a HOT shower
- Dislike night time because you know you are not going to get enough sleep
- Wonder what happened to your partner(emotionally)
- Utter exhaustion
- Miss your partner, crave time together
- Frustrated because you can’t “fix” everything
- Not sure how to BEST help your partner
- Feel helpless because you can’t nurse the baby (there are many other things you can do)
- Are ready to go back to work
Parenting is HARD! Parenting a newborn is overwhelming.
As a postpartum registered nurse, working in a hospital, community health settings and in families homes made me feel like I had a good handle on what “life” would actually be like when I had our first. Ha Ha, I was wrong! I had years of knowledge and experience plus my husband and I felt as prepared and ready as we could be. However, knowing she was all our responsibility, made things a tad more overwhelming and scary. Having my own was very different from helping other families adjust and transition. As an After Baby Consultant, my job is to stay current on all things mom, baby and family related and support parents in their parenting philosophies. I help them feel prepared for the unknowns, shorten their learning curve and give them the support to feel educated, informed and confident. As a new parent, I learned that all my experiences and knowledge would only take me so far. I had to rely on my instincts and trust my gut. Thankful for all the wisdom I gained while helping others as it made my transition easier and my expectations more realistic. You can be the best babysitter, nursery worker, auntie or friend, but when it is 2 a.m. and your baby is screaming while the world is sleeping, you realize parenting is HARD!
Appliances and cars come with instructions manuals, so why don’t babies?
You can read and research everything on newborns, but nothing can prepare you for the first night, week and month of life with your baby. The staff (instruction manuals) are with you at the hospital or birth center for the length of time you are there but once you leave, they do not come home with you. You are on your own. That first night home can be exciting, overwhelming, scary and downright exhausting. Being in your own bed is heavenly but there is NO call light to push when you have questions or need help. You probably will not sleep much and if you do sleep, it will be with one eye open. Learning your baby’s noises and adjusting to their sleeping and feeding takes time, but you WILL get there. You try a lot of trial and error before you find out what works for your baby, then they change it up again. Not all things work with every baby and that is NORMAL too. Keep trying, talk to other parents and trust your gut.
Call me today to talk about your postpartum expectations and we will make a plan together.
Check out part 2 on knowing what unrealistic expectations to ignore.