The kind of support new parents receive is crucial to how well they adapt. I’ve seen families where well-intentioned (or not) relatives criticize, correct and nag every little thing the new mother or father does. I’ve also seen families that nurture and praise and provide unconditional support. Guess which parents feel most confident. Guess which ones have the hardest time.
Here’s my advice for how to support new parents:
1. Help mom to heal from birth and get back on her feet by taking care of the cooking, cleaning, laundry and care of her other children.
2. Support her to take care of her baby and herself, her way, even if it’s not your way.
3. Don’t over-instruct Dad as he learns to diaper, hold and swaddle his baby. He doesn’t need to be told, “Hold baby’s head.” Dads know what they’re doing.
4. Be available to help, but avoid offering advice unless it’s asked for.
5. Let them learn to trust their own instincts.
6. Tell new parents how great they are. Tell them they’re “naturals” and that they’re the best parents their baby could have.
7. Act as a gatekeeper for friends and relatives who can’t be supportive or who have their own agenda. That might be the aunt who specializes in worst-case stories of things that can go wrong or a friend who won’t stop talking about how much she hated breastfeeding.
8. Be positive, nurturing, and helpful and know when to leave the new parents alone.
Here’s my official statement for the new Royal Family: Great job, you two. You’re off to an excellent start. You’re going to love being parents.
Jeanne Faulkner, R.N., lives in Portland, Ore., with her husband and children. And co-author of, The Complete Illustrated Birthing Companion: A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating the Best Birthing Plan for a Safe, Less Painful, and Successful Delivery for You and Your Baby. Got a question for Jeanne? Email it to firstname.lastname@example.org and it may be answered in a future blog post.
This Fit Pregnancy blog is intended for educational purposes only. It is not intended to replace medical advice from your physician. Before initiating any exercise program, diet or treatment provided by Fit Pregnancy, you should seek medical advice from your primary caregiver.