Community//

Three unexpected ways having a baby changes your life

Most couples expect that having a baby will change some aspects of life, but most parents find the biggest changes are ones they DIDN’T expect.

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Needing slow and simple

Thanks to the overnight life changes that come with becoming a family, parents often find themselves craving less stress and more simplicity. In fact, there’s a thing called “transition stress” that most parents don’t even realise they’re experiencing. Add in the fatigue that comes with caring for a new baby 24/7 and new parents are beyond tired, they’re exhausted. This can affect every area of functioning – thinking is muddled, memory is shot, decision making becomes overwhelming. New parents have more than enough to cope with, without adding normal life stuff into the mix. Less really does become more.

First there was slow cooking, then there was slow TV – parenthood is an opportunity for slow being. And just as well, because babies aren’t too fond of fast. Being rushed makes infants spit-up and toddlers melt-down. When parents are more relaxed, their kids are likely to be too. Parenthood is the perfect time to get off the treadmill, step away from the rut and consciously create a more relaxed lifestyle that benefits the whole family.

Priorities, Aspirations and Goals

OK, so maybe that’s three things, but they’re all connected.

Regardless of your plans before baby, life with a baby, especially in the very beginning, becomes ALL about their welfare. Everything else comes second or third…or not at all. This means that pretty much everything that was important to you BC (before children) takes a back seat, whether it’s for two weeks, two months or two years…

And you might even discover some radical ‘what’s really important now’ changes. Parenthood is a time of re-examining goals, re-assessing where they sit in the pecking order of life and shucking those that don’t fit anymore. For example, if your work doesn’t support you to be who you are and how you want to show up in the world, consider parenthood a good time for a career change. Either plan for this well ahead of time so the shift is made before your baby joins you, or start after your baby is around 6 months or so, so your priorities aren’t split in the earliest months of their life.

Your mental and emotional wellbeing becomes more important

It may be surprising to know that expecting and new parents are more at risk for anxiety or depression than at other time in life, but there’s good reasons for this. Broken sleep, relying more on unhealthy foods, increased pressures and decreased outlets for stress relief all tend to play a part for new parents and all can affect our mood. Pregnancy and early parenthood can be an emotional rollercoaster. Thanks to hormonal changes (for dads too!) the highs are higher and the lows are lower. When we don’t get enough support through the lows, it can impact on the mental and emotional wellbeing of the whole family.

If you’re planning on starting a family or expecting now, find a doula or other birthcare professional who can help you to anticipate the life changes to come and give you some tips to navigate them. Getting as much rest as possible, eating easy but nutritious meals, going for a walk a few days a week and talking everything through as a couple can help you and your partner to cope with the instantaneous life changes, steep learning curves and new challenges that come with the parenthood territory. If you have small children now, reach out for help – you were never meant to do it alone and unsupported. Finding the right support can make all the difference for your family.

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