You and your family
Offers of help can be welcome and some should certainly be accepted. However, constant visitors and advice you don’t want are not so welcome. Don’t feel you have to entertain people – let them make their own tea and bring their own biscuits. And if it’s too tiring to see someone, don’t be afraid to ask them to arrange to come another time. ‘Always phone first’ is a good rule. Partners can be good gatekeepers by explaining that you’re just too tired. Grandparents can help keep people away too but they should remember that there are times when you won’t want to see them either!
You and your partner
In theory, having a baby should be a joyous time which brings you and your partner closer. In fact, it can put a real strain on the best of relationships. You can both be tired, feel that your world has been turned upside down (it has!) and partners can feel ‘shut out’ by the new arrival. Your sex life may well suffer – and that can put pressure on you both. Learning to look after the baby together is good for a relationship. Mums should encourage partners to share the baby care and, remember, there’s more than one right way to do most things.
But the most important thing is to keep talking to each other. Try to spend some time alone as a couple, even if it’s just a walk for half an hour or an undisturbed meal while someone else looks after your baby.
Time to yourself and adult conversation are often the most important things to new mums. If people offer to help, let them. Sometimes people will offer to bring round meals, do a bit of shopping for you or even (if you’re really lucky!) do the cleaning. Say yes, and remember, they’ll feel good about being able to help so actually you’re doing them a favour! And, if they don’t offer, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
Having a baby can be a good way to make new friends – and chances are, you’ll need them. However much you think having a baby won’t change anything, it may well affect your friendships with those who don’t have babies (and who still want to go out clubbing every weekend!).
Most areas will have groups of other parents that are good for support and friendship. Some organisations have coffee groups, drop in centres or baby and toddler clubs. It can be hard to break into these networks, especially if you’re a bit shy. You could ask someone you already know if they’ll come along with you for the first few times until you get to know other people there. Ask your health visitor/public health nurse for advice and details of groups.
If you’re on your own
Try to organise as much support as possible from your family and friends. Remember it’s important to make time for yourself as well as for the baby. There are groups that can help when it all seems too much. Ask your health visitor/public health nurse or contact groups such as Gingerbread Scotland or One Parent Families Scotland.