New Parent Health Woes

By Andrea K. Clark

There has never been any question about the fact that welcoming a new baby into the world is one of, if not the, best experiences we will ever have. I can remember the birth of both my boys like they happened yesterday. I can also remember the days and months after bringing them home from the hospital and how our lives and routines changed.
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Five and a half years ago, we welcomed our oldest son into the world. When he came home I can remember feeling like I was flying by the seat of my pants. Honestly, I think I felt like that for the first three years…and sometimes still feel that way. I didn’t have time to focus on much except for taking care of our new little boy. Since my husband and I were new parents, we were naturally so engrossed in the care and well-being of our son that we didn’t think much about our own well-being.

The second time around, just eight months ago, things were a little different. We knew what to expect so we weren’t so on edge. This also meant that we were able to focus on ourselves more than we did when we had the first baby. We learned that there really are some new health woes that come with new babies if new parents aren’t careful. Here’s what to watch for if you are expecting a new baby sometime soon.

1. Sleep Deprivation. So many people told me to leave the dishes and housework alone when the baby was napping and to nap when the baby did. I didn’t listen with my first baby, but when the second one came along, I had no problem napping whenever he did during the day! You wouldn’t believe the difference that one thing made. With my first, I felt like a walking zombie for the first couple of months, but with the second one I honestly didn’t feel sleep deprived at all. Therefore, don’t toss out this advice. Nap when the baby is sleeping!

2. Weight Gain. Obviously, once the baby is here, moms lose weight pretty fast within the first couple of weeks. However, most of the time, not all of that baby weight comes off and we have to fight for those last 10 pounds or so. After I had my first son, I had the mindset of “well, it took nine months to put it on, so I should give myself that long to get it off.” Needless to say, by the time nine months rolled around, I was still carrying those last 10 pounds, plus some around with me. My husband also gained a little weight during this time too. Why? We both got lax because we were so focused on the baby that we didn’t focus on the types of foods we were eating. We ate whatever was quick to fix, regardless of how healthy or unhealthy it was for us. This didn’t happen the second time around…I was pretty determined to drop the weight fast and keep it off so I made a point to only stock healthy foods in the house to eliminate the temptation to eat whatever as quick and easy.

3. Lack of Intimacy. This is a topic many new parents hate to talk about because they feel guilty for even thinking about it. A lot of times when a new baby comes along, new parents are so engrossed in caring for the baby that they put their relationship on the back burner. My husband and I went through this phase after our oldest was born. In fact, he was about four months old when I made the comment to my husband that I felt like we were more roommates than we were a married couple. Once we both admitted how we felt, we made a conscious effort to fix the problem. We allowed ourselves a date night twice a month or so and we made a point to make time for each other in the evenings after the little one was in bed but before we went to bed. If new parents aren’t careful, they will find themselves drifting apart as they care for their new baby…don’t let this happen. The reason you have your little one is because you and your spouse fell in love. Therefore, don’t lose it!

4. Losing Touch with Friends. This is probably one of the hardest things new parents go through when they have their first child. My husband and I were actually the first of our group of friends to have kids which made having kids a huge adjustment for us. We weren’t able to go out with our kid-less friends at the drop of a hat anymore, and we naturally lost touch with them. For a while it was pretty depressing. Instead of going out on Friday and Saturday night, we were at home dealing with poopy diapers and 3 a.m. feedings. Eventually we made new friends, with kids, and our old friends got married and had kids of their own which helped the situation tremendously. I guess the word of advice here is to expect your group of friends to change when you have kid, especially if none of your other friends have kids. So, how is this a health concern? If you aren’t expecting this change to happen, it can cause depression. Therefore, prepare yourself for it and look for ways to make the transition easier.

5. Emotional Build-Up. For some reason nobody likes to talk much about the “downside” of having a baby. Babies definitely play with your emotions. They cry and sometimes you don’t know what’s wrong and can’t get them to stop. They cut into your “free” time and can alienate you from your friends. In short, they change your whole world. This can naturally cause some emotions to build up. It’s important to talk about these emotions with your spouse or someone you trust…get them out in the open and help each other work through them. And, if you need to see a counselor, do it. It’s for the best for you and your family. Don’t let your emotions build up, because sometimes they build up so much that they can cause a horrible explosion.

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Read more of my articles on children and parenting here.

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