New Parents, health and asking what do you need?
Becoming a parent changes our world changes, literally. We have a little person who relies upon us, our body is physically different, or relationship with our partner is different and our emotions and thoughts might also be different.
While having a baby can add value to our lives in many ways by bringing new experiences to our days, new smiles to each moment and unconditional love, it is not always an anxiety-free journey.
When we move thought transitions and adjustments in life such as having a baby, we can find that our thoughts and feelings may change as we embark upon this new stage of life.
We are suddenly learning new things, trying to find new signs to tell us if we are doing things ‘well’ and we may have found bonding and connecting harder than we thought.
Every parenting journey is different, and everyone experiences different hurdles on their way that can make us feel anxious or worried; but when does a hurdle become a problem that needs support?
A little worry or anxiety is typical, however, heightened levels can impact upon our mood, our ability to cope and our relationships. We may find ourselves worried over the little things or unable to move on from one thing or another.
Knowing when to seek further support or what to look out for to support a loved one is essential.
Knowing & noticing signs
Postnatal anxiety is common in both men and women, so it is important to keep an eye out for the sings in new mums and dads.
These can include:
– Feeling constantly worried something bad may happen
– Noticing heart palpitations or feelings of a racing heart
– Anxiety and worries which are difficult to control and interferes with daily tasks
– Feeling irritable, restless or on edge
– Trying to control things at a heightened level such as frequent checking upon your baby
– Finding that your worries and behaviours stop you from going out with your baby
What if I notice the signs in someone else?
If you notice these signs within yourself it’s a good idea to check in with your maternal child health nurse, health practitioner or G.P.
If you are noticing these signs in someone you love and care about it maybe time to ask them if they need some extra support. Having the conversation can be hard so there are some tips below to help you.
1. Start by choosing the right time (such as when the house is quiet as opposed to baby nap time or when the person is distracted). Listen and hold the space
2. Be okay with silence, with not fixing everything and simply being there in the moment. Use empathy and support them.
3. Encourage action, this could be seeing a GP, a psychologist or accessing an EAP.
It could be finding reputable resources such as those available by PANDA, or BeyondBlue, or contacting a helpline such as Lifeline 131114, PANDA 1300 726 306 or in the event of an emergency contacting 000.
4. Ask if there is anything they need. This could be to help cook a meal, to hold the baby while they shower or rest or to play with an older child.
5. Check back in with them.
Knowing what to look out for and how to support someone is a valuable tool to have in your parenting toolbox, you never know when you might need it.
More on our guest author – Christie!
Christie Arbuckle is a registered psychologist, an endorsed Clinical Psychologist and board-approved clinical supervisor.
She has extensive experience facilitating groups and training programs in a wide variety of organisations and mental health settings. She has specialised in clinical areas including perinatal health, recovery from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and eating disorders.
Christie is the director of Growth Pursuit Consulting and the founder of mental health app, The Compassionate Parent App.
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