Having a baby is like moving to a new country. We have lots of questions as we get to know this new person in our lives and many feelings can surface for us in the days and months that follow our new arrival. Sometimes we feel an enormous love when a new baby is born, a love we haven’t felt before. Sometimes that love for our child is buried under sadness, worry, or exhaustion.
What helps after a new baby is born is a system of support. Friends, family, meals, and someone to talk to about how things are unfolding can make an enormous difference. Spending Special Time and listening to our babies when they’re in distress will help us get to know them, will soothe their worries or fears, and help them develop and grow. It’s also important to support the vital role that a father plays in the birth of a new baby. His relationship with the baby and his need for support during this time should not be underestimated.
Set up A Support System
There is never enough help after a child is born. If only you had a band of angels that flew in to prepare your favorite meals, hold the baby while you sleep, and listen to your thoughts, and create space for your tears, you might be able to rest and relax in the months that follow the birth of your baby.
In lieu of that, do your best to set up systems of support and nourishment to get through the early weeks and the months that follow the arrival of your little one. Enlist family members or a group of friends to cook meals for you. Sites like lotsahelpinghands.com are good resources to help your community coordinate meals after the baby is born. Ask someone to come over so that you can spend even small pockets of time, sleeping, showering, or connecting with older children. You get to decide how the support comes in. If you need a break from visitors, it’s OK to ask them to leave food at the door.
Special Time Helps Your New Baby’s Brain Grow
As a new parent, you might feel like you spend every moment with your baby. But in reality, your days are also filled with the work it takes to run a family and it’s easy to get busy around your baby. Special Time helps you connect with your new baby, and it helps her developing brain. Even if you feel like you’ve spent every waking hour (and sleeping hours!) with your little one, set aside five, ten, or fifteen minutes to be with her, without any other distractions. Make sure her physical needs are met, hold her close, and pour in the love and attention. Talk to your baby in a warm, soft tone and notice what she tells you in return.
Special Time will help you to attune to your baby’s mind and emotions; you’ll become familiar with her signals and have the chance to respond in a warm and caring way. Eye contact, a warm, gentle voice, and taking time to listen to how your baby responds to your words will shape the architecture of your child’s brain.
Staylisten With Your New Baby
There may be many moments when you wrack your brain trying to figure what why your baby is crying. Sometimes when a new baby cries, there is something to fix. A dirty diaper, hunger pains, or being too hot can evoke big cries from your little one. Sometimes there are things that you can’t fix—they cry when you change their diaper or when you walk away for a few minutes. And sometimes their tears have no immediate discernible cause. It’s during these times that your baby may just need to cry in your arms.
If you’ve just fed and changed your baby, and you think you’ve met her physical needs, but your little one is upset, listen with your full attention. She might be relieving stress about an argument she overheard, or healing from the disconnection she felt when you were out of the room. Crying with a warm, unworried listener will help your baby clear out tension and fear, and lets her know that she is safe and loved.
Find Someone to Listen to You
There are many feelings that can surface for parents when a child is born. Having someone that will listen to you through a big cry or simply laugh with you through the trying times and amazing moments of parenting can shore you up. When you head back to your children you might be able to figure out how to help them sleep through the night for the first time.
Having someone with whom you can share the highs and lows of parenting with, can help you work through the many feelings that surface after the birth of your new baby. In the Hand in Hand Parenting approach, Listening Partnership helps you do just that. Set up a regular date with another person in which each parent gets to talk and each one gets to listen. It makes us better parents and can have a direct impact on other relationships in our lives.
Fathers are Primary Parents
Sometimes when a new baby is born, it’s hard for a father to notice how much he’s needed—especially if mom is doing the bulk of the feeding or care-taking during the day. The new responsibility of being a father can also make work more stressful for dads. Long hours at work and heavy expectations make it harder to enjoy his baby. But children love their fathers and want them close.
Special Time is a great way for fathers to connect with their babies. It can lay the foundation of a strong attachment for years to come. It’s also important for dads to have someone to talk to—someone with whom they can share their highest hopes for their families and the challenges that come along with the work of parenting. Setting up a Listening Partnership or joining a parenting group can help dads notice how much they love their new baby. This will help shed some of their worries and frustrations.