Having a newborn, whether it’s your first or your fourteenth, can be a very stressful time even while it’s filled with the joy and wonder any new child brings. Feeling overwhelmed, stressed, exhausted or unsure can bring unexpected feelings of guilt, undermining your confidence and adding even more stress that just won’t let go, especially if your little one is fussy or uncomfortable much of the time. Successfully managing colic and asking for help go hand in hand!
It’s natural that you, as the parent of a newborn, are stressed out and exhausted at least part of the time, and if your little one cries incessantly, you’re even more likely to suffer from heightened levels of frustration and anxiety. It’s natural to worry about everything, especially if you’re a first time parent – feeding issues, sleeping or NOT sleeping, your babe’s growth rate and even overall health can all add to your stress. In all cases, it’s important to be aware of your own state of mind and give yourself breaks whenever possible.
See our Tips and Tricks for Parents Article for Ideas!
There’s the catch, isn’t it? How do you ‘take a break’ and try to relax when, especially with colic-y babies, there’s just no end in sight to the crying or anxiety? Well, the first and most important step is to understand that this is not a permanent condition, and one day, sooner than later, your little one will actually NOT cry all afternoon and/or evening, and you’ll be able to enjoy that little smile without worrying about when it will turn into tears again. Hallelujah!
In the meantime, there are lots of little things that you can try to help you get through the day without wanting to pull out your hair, and depending on your access to family and friends, ways to ask for help without imposing.
Colic & Asking for Help
If you have access to family or friends, here are some ways to ask for a little support without being a burden:
- Hand off the little one to your partner, family member or a trusted friend while you take a nap, have a shower, or make a cup of tea. Having even a few minutes to yourself, especially when the babe is cranky, can have an amazing effect on your own sense of peace and calm.
- Enlist a friend or family member to take a walk with you and the little one – often, a bit of fresh air and movement will keep baby happy and you’ll get some social time, fresh air and some exercise to boot. If you plan your walks for right after feeding time, or when the baby is generally less fussy anyway, and you’re also most likely to have a happy napping baby while you walk. You’ll be better prepared for later when the baby is more uncomfortable if you have a chance to feel normal earlier in the day, and the exercise is always good!
- There’s a saying “Sleep when the baby sleeps” that seems to make a lot of sense, but if you’re super stressed, sometimes being awake when the baby is asleep brings a special chance to feel some peace. When you’re reaching out to a family member or friend to take over with the baby for a bit, try asking them to watch your little one while he or she is sleeping, and give yourself an ‘awake break’ for a change.
- If you’re finding that you are just too stressed out and frustrated to get any relief, be sure to reach out to your doctor for advice. You’re definitely not the only parent in the position of having a colic-y or fussy baby, and your doctor will be able to give you some perspective and may even be able to refer you to support groups for parents of newborns where you can meet other parents going through the same thing. Just about 1 in every 5 parents deal with colic-y babies, so there are lots of other folk going through the same struggles you are, and often just having someone else who is in the same position, is enough to help you cope more easily. Remember – the point of asking for help is realizing that you’re not alone.
- Have a heart to heart with your significant other, and work out a plan to trade off some of the responsibilities and downtime, so that you’re working together to keep baby as happy as possible while balancing your own needs as well. Remember to stay as supportive of each other as possible while you chat about your feelings, needs and worries, and try to talk about the joy you feel as well as the worry and stress. Focusing on the best parts of parenting really can lighten the load when you’re working through a difficult patch.
Of course, all of these tips are well and good for parents who have a support system ready and willing to jump in and help out, but what happens to those parents who are really alone? How do you ask for help if you don’t have a team of family and friends standing by? In our next post, we’ll talk about how to create your own support system, even if you feel completely isolated. don’t forget – we’re here to help!