Helping yourself

Support and help for new parents comes in a whole bunch of different forms – from family and friends, health professionals, other parents and community services. There's also heaps of stuff you can do to look after your emotions and wellbeing. 

Cut yourself some slack

  • Check your mindset. It’s easy to feel overwhelmed as a new parent but you're not expected to know everything. Cut yourself some slack and give yourself permission to learn as you go. This helps put any mistakes in perspective, and it’s also a great way to start teaching your child about the right mindset to adopt when tackling problems.
  • Listen to your self-talk. What you say to yourself in your head plays a big part in how you feel about yourself and your life. Pay attention when you start thinking in black and white ways – “I’m not a good parent”, “I never do anything right” for example. Notice what you’re saying to yourself and thinking each day, decide whether this is a helpful or unhelpful way for you to think, and focus on steering your self-talk in a more positive direction.
  • Focus on your strengths. When you’re in a negative spiral, it can help to identify and write down three things you did well each day – no matter how small they might seem.
  • Be aware of changes from how you normally feel. Don't bottle up your feelings – talk to someone you trust. Sharing your concerns can be really helpful.
  • Having constant visitors can be overwhelming. While family and friends can be a great source of support, don't be afraid to say no or suggest another time if you're not feeling up to it.

Take care of the basics

It's important to be both physically and emotionally healthy, especially at this time. Here are some ideas to get you started:

  • Get creative about how you find the time. Can you catch up on sleep or do something relaxing while a friend or grandparent takes the baby out? Can you prepare your weekly meals on the weekend so you’re planning to eat well?
  • Plan some enjoyable physical activity every day. Don't try to do too much too early and be flexible in your planning. Start with easy tasks and activities and build on them slowly. Planning things with other people can motivate you to get moving, especially on those days when it seems hard to do anything.
  • Learn new ways to manage stress such as improving your problem-solving skills, or finding other ways to unwind.
  • Don’t forget you’re still a couple. How are you nurturing your relationship with your partner? Spend quality time together (at least a couple of hours once a week) and debrief every night about how you’ve each found the day (even if it’s only 10 minutes).

Accept help and support

  • Asking for and accepting help – even before you really need it – can make the transition to parenthood less stressful.

  • Extend your support network – other new and expectant parents can be a valuable resource.

  • Don't be afraid to ask questions when you visit your GP, obstetrician or midwife.

Seeking support
If negative feelings are starting to affect your feelings about yourself or your baby, it's important to seek advice early. Speak to your GP or Maternal, Child and Family Health Nurse, or get in touch with a support line.
If you feel like you're at breaking point or that things are getting out of control, put your baby in their cot and take a few minutes to yourself. Call a trusted support person such as a friend, neighbour or family member.
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