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Adjusting as new parents

It's so easy to focus on a newborn baby that sometimes parents forget to take care of themselves. All parents need physical and emotional support, especially in the first year of parenting. If you need more help on how to take better care of yourself, talk to your health care provider or Public Health Nurse.

Self-care tips

  • When family and friends offer help, take them up on it.
  • Make sure you are taking the time eat when you're hungry and drink lots of water.
  • Find time to relax and do something you enjoy.
  • Connect with other new parents who are supportive.
  • Sleep when you can (housework can wait).

Self-care resources

Post partum depression

80% of new parents will go through a few days of difficult adjustment after giving birth, called the  baby blues. It's normal and common to feel irritable, sad/tearful or overwhelmed. Most parents recover quickly on their own. 

However, some parents face a much harder struggle. One in six new moms and one in ten new dads will develop a perinatal mood disorder like postpartum depression and anxiety. This can happen whether they've gone through a pregnancy or adopted their child. 

These are some of the signs that a mom might need help:

  • Feeling that something isn't right
  • Feeling helpless or overwhelmed by everyday activities
  • Not bonding with baby or feeling resentment or lack of interest
  • Feeling angry or aggressive
  • Feeling numb or being unable to feel emotions
  • Crying often, even when you don't know why
  • Afraid to be alone
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Frightening, intrusive thoughts about you or baby getting hurt
  • Feeling overwhelmed by anxiety or panic attacks
  • Loss of appetite or overeating
  • Difficulty sleeping, even when you get the opportunity
  • Constantly worrying about baby or feelings of doom
  • Feeling like you're alone or have no support
  • Feeling like you're not good enough or are a 'bad mom'

Dads can have similar symptoms. However, signs of depression in men are more likely to include increased anger, emotional withdrawal and/or risk-taking behaviour (e.g., having an affair or driving recklessly).

If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, contact the Pacific Post Partum Support Society toll free at 855-255-7999. Their website has resources to help momsdads and the people who love them. You can also read one mom's journey through postpartum depression.

Your Public Health Nurse or family physician are here to help – check out the services VCH offers for perinatal depression.

If you have feelings that you want to hurt yourself or your baby, you are not a bad parent but you do need help. Visit your nearest emergency department or call the crisis line at 1-800-784-2433.


A new baby can be very hard on your relationship with your partner. When there is another little human demanding your attention and you're not getting enough sleep, it's easy to become irritable with your partner or to drift apart from them. Make sure you take time every day to connect with your partner about something other than the baby.

Abuse & domestic violence

Pregnancy and new parenthood can be a time when domestic abuse (intimate partner violence) increases. Nobody has the right to threaten you, or verbally, emotionally, sexually or physically abuse you. If you or someone you love is in danger, call 9-1-1.

You or the person you love is:

  • Apologetic and making excuses for their partners aggression/anger
  • Nervous when their partner is around
  • Often sick or missing work
  • Seems to be "accident prone" with lots of bruises that they try to cover
  • Sad, lonely, withdrawn
  • Using drugs or alcohol to cope

Your (loved one's) partner:

  • Puts you/your loved one down
  • Does all of the talking and dominates the conversation
  • Checks up on you/your loved one all the time, even at work
  • Tries to act like the victim; blames you/your loved one for the abuse
  • Tries to keep you/them from seeing friends and family
  • Acts as if they own you/your loved one
  • Acts like they are superior and have more value than you/your loved one

Nobody has the right to threaten you, or verbally, emotionally, sexually or physically abuse you. If this is happening to you, it's also harming your children, even if they aren't being abused. You must get help. Clear your browser history after, if needed

SOURCE: Adjusting as new parents ( )
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