Adjusting to Life With a Newborn Baby

Crying newborn baby It’s 3 a.m., and your baby has been up crying all night (and possibly you have, too). No matter how prepared you thought you were, the confusion, exhaustion, stress, loneliness, and growing piles of laundry and dishes can be overwhelming. You may even feel guilty, thinking you’re not doing enough or doing anything right. You’re not alone. All parents go through an adjustment period—whether it’s your first child or your fifth—and every baby is different.

Taking care of a newborn can be a lot of work, and it’s easy to focus so much on your baby’s needs that yours go unmet. It’s not uncommon for parents to feel guilty about practicing self-care, but taking care of your child includes taking care of yourself. As the flight-safety instructions go: You have to put your oxygen mask on before trying to help others.

As best you can, try to follow simple self-care routines each day, such as bathing, eating nutritious meals and snacks, and drinking plenty of water. And try to prioritize sleep. Some days, you may need to skip a shower or housework to get more sleep, and that’s more than OK! Be patient and kind to yourself, and adjust based on what each day brings.


If you’re stressed because your baby isn’t eating or sleeping, or you can’t get them to stop crying, it’s normal to feel overwhelmed, helpless or frustrated. This does not mean you’re failing. Your baby can’t tell you why they’re upset, and you’re doing the best you can to figure out how to meet their needs.

In these moments, take deep breaths to help you try to stay calm. Even babies can pick up on what we are feeling. If you need a break, it’s more than OK to ask your partner or another trusted adult for help or to set your baby down in a safe place (like their crib).


Taking care of a newborn baby can feel lonely at times. To help with feelings of isolation or loneliness, try to spend some time connecting with loved ones. Connection can look different for everyone. Whether it's chatting with your partner over dinner, catching up with a friend at a coffee shop with baby in tow or texting with a loved one late at night, connection isn't one size fits all. What matters most is that you get support, however (and whenever) you need it.


Although connecting with loved ones can help give you the support you need, it can also feel overwhelming to have people around or trying to help. Give yourself permission to set limits on when people can visit so that you don't get burned out. For example, you may decide on a certain number of visits per week, or that people can only visit during times that work best for you and your baby. If you’re feeling overwhelmed, it’s also OK to press pause on visits altogether.

If you’re worried about how your friends or family may respond, try saying something like, “I really appreciate you wanting to help, but things are a little hectic right now. I’ll let you know when we feel a little more settled and are ready for company.”


Even if this isn't your first child, there’s going to be a period of adjustment with any new baby. It can be both exciting and difficult. Give yourself permission to feel it all. Parenting is one of the hardest jobs there is, and it's normal to struggle as you adapt to this big change.

Try to be patient and kind to yourself.

  • It's OK to ask for help.
  • It’s OK to let a trustworthy friend hold your baby while you nap or bathe.
  • It’s OK to accept a meal from a neighbor.
  • It’s OK to reach out to a loved one for help around the house.

 

Whether it’s your partner, a trusted friend, family member or professional, help is available. Asking for help is not a sign of weakness. It takes vulnerability, strength and courage, and it builds resilience to seek help. Your mental and physical health matter, and chances are your loved ones will enjoy the opportunity to help you (and getting to love on your baby).

What’s “normal” for one person may not be normal for the next, so listen to your body and mind. If you feel like things are too difficult or that you’re struggling more than you should, do not hesitate to reach out to a medical professional.


If you or a loved one are experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm, call the Georgia Crisis and Access Line (GCAL) at 1-800-715-4225. You can also chat or text for support by downloading the MyGCAL app in the app store or on Google Play. For those outside of Georgia, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-8255. Any thoughts of suicide should be taken seriously.