The importance of a support system for newborns and their caregivers cannot be overstated. Why? Because when new parents feel supported, they create a more caring and healthy environment for their baby. And specialists at nonprofit Zero to Three say kids in homes like these go on to fare better both academically and socially.
According to the National Center for Infants, Toddlers and Families, nearly half (48 percent) of new parents don’t feel they have the support they need when they’re stressed. And make no mistake — caring for a newborn can involve some stressful moments.
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Family, Friends, Community, Co-Workers: It Takes a Village
If you’re expecting a baby, you should treat your newborn support system as seriously as you would all the other preparations.
Here are some tips for assembling your reinforcements:
Extended family can greatly improve the emotional, mental, and physical well-being of new parents by showing up and compensating for situations where they may fall behind.
For example, your baby’s aunt can do laundry and help prep a meal. Or grandpa might offer words of encouragement from his memory of similar transitions.
Your siblings, parents, and in-laws bring a deeper knowledge of your preferences and can step in exactly where others may feel inadequate. And the baby benefits, too.
Researchers at the American Psychological Association say newborns whose complex families support the parents experience a whole life span of improved resilience in the face of common adversities.
Good pals are an essential element of any newborn baby support system.
Buddies can bring laughter into the exhaustion, camaraderie to lonely night shifts, and grace to the new parent’s relentless workload. They’re closer than your co-workers, but not as complicated as a family member. In short, you can lean on friends like no one else.
Friends are often the first to notice signs of discouragement and recommend you talk with an expert. To assemble your “swoop troupe” — or peers you can call to swoop in with ice cream, nipple cream, diaper cream, or all the above — simply let them know you plan to phone them when needed. Good friends will consider it an honor to assist.
Postpartum follow-up visits to and from your medical care team are the foundation of a strong, community-wide newborn baby support system.
Many towns offer tangible assistance for new parents, like diaper drives, visitation services, and even mommy-and-me outings.
Your local library or community center may offer a variety of activities and resources. Those resources can connect you with the people and programs that can help you and your new addition.
The National Institutes of Health found new parents who receive support from their community feel more confident in their care. Because of that, they tend to need fewer intervention measures later in life.
Some professional teammates champion their expecting colleague, while others seem to merely tolerate the interruption. You may already have a sense of who’s really supportive at work. Talk with other parents in the office about how they navigated their leave, and you may find even more company cheerleaders.
Ask them to remind everyone occasionally about the great work you’ve always done or to remind people whom they should call during your leave. Career coaches at Forbes also recommend meeting with your company’s human resources department to learn about all the benefits and resources available.
While you may be baby’s 24/7 caregiver, a newborn support system is crucial to ensure you’re cared for as well. Arrange a structure of support for yourself now. That way, when you need anything, you know exactly where to go or whom to call.
To learn more about how to support yourself as you navigate this monumental life change, visit UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital’s Behavioral Health Services. You can also call to speak with an expert at 1-866-MyMagee (696-2433). Remember, you’re not alone.
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For more than a century, UPMC Magee-Womens Hospital has provided high-quality medical care to women at all stages of life. UPMC Magee is long renowned for its services to women and babies, but also offers a wide range of care to men as well. Nearly 10,000 babies are born each year at Magee, and the hospital’s NICU is one of the largest in the country. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognizes Magee as a National Center of Excellence in Women’s Health, and the Magee-Womens Research Institute is the largest research institute in the U.S. devoted exclusively to women’s health and reproductive biology.