There are a number of positive steps, all of equal importance, that you can take as parents to improve your lot with a new baby:

Organise a support system. Enlist the help of parents, relatives, friends, or neighbours who are willing to assist with the sheer physical work that has to be done (e.g. cleaning, washing, preparing meals). They often provide psychological support and reassurance as well. Reliable and trustworthy paid help, if you are able to afford it, can be invaluable.

Ask for your partner’s help. Explain your needs clearly to each other. Try to have realistic expectations of one another. The preparation of gourmet meals should be put on hold, and simple or easy to prepare food or take-aways become the order of the day. You may also have to turn a blind eye to the housework for a while.

Find a sympathetic maternal and child nurse and enlist her support. She is likely to have a wealth of experience to draw on and her guidance may prove invaluable. Talk to other parents and help each other out. Others may have some good tips. Organise a baby-minding club with other parents so that you can have a couple of hours to yourself every few days. Use this time to do something for yourself that you enjoy — go swimming, go to the hairdresser, or go and visit a friend.

Make sure you own needs are met. Don’t be a martyr. Take time out whenever possible for relaxation, catching up on sleep, or just going down the street. You need this time alone.

Don’t try to be a superman or superwoman. Be realistic about what can be achieved. If the time you would spend making the bed and doing the dishes means the difference between coping and collapsing, forget the housework!

Organise a schedule for essential activities but remember that it needs to be flexible in case of unexpected events.

Acknowledge that all babies are different and that your baby’s temperament may well be the reason for all that grizzling or unpredictability.

Know that all parents experience frustration and despair with their new baby at some stage. Remember it is only a phase and things will improve.

Ask for help! Turn to your partner, doctor, nurse, mother-in-law — anyone! Don’t try to go it alone.


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